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Just a Dream Hardcover – October 29, 1990


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Hardcover, October 29, 1990
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Frequently Bought Together

Just a Dream + The Garden of Abdul Gasazi + The Sweetest Fig
Price for all three: $43.45

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 550L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 29, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395533082
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395533086
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.1 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two-time Caldecott Medalist Van Allsburg reaches a new pinnacle of excellence in both illustration and storytelling in his latest work. Since his first book, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, appeared just over a decade ago, he has spun many strange and fantastic modern fairy tales, all of which spill over the edge of reality into magnificent dreamscapes. Here Van Allsburg introduces Walter, a boy who imagines the future as a marvelous time, with tiny airplanes that can be parked on the roof of your house and robots that take care of all your work for you. In the present, however, Walter is a litterbug who can't be bothered to sort the trash for recycling and laughs at Rose, the girl next door, because she receives a sapling for her birthday. One night, when Walter goes to sleep, his bed travels to the future. But he finds neither tiny airplanes nor robots, only piles of trash covering the street where he used to live, acres and acres of stumps where forests used to stand, rows and rows of great smokestacks belching out acrid smoke, and many other environmental nightmares. Van Allsburg renders each of these chilling scenarios in elaborate, superbly executed two-page spreads that echo the best work of M. C. Escher and Winsor McKay (creator of the Little Nemo comic strips). Walter and his bed land right in the middle of the action in each of these hallucinatory paintings, heightening the visual impact and forcing a hard look at the devastation surrounding Van Allsburg's protagonist. An awakened Walter, jolted by his dream, changes his ways: he begins to sort the trash and, like Rose, plants a tree for his birthday. Then his bed takes him to a different future, one where people tend their lawns with powerless mowers and where the trees he and Rose have planted stand tall and strong beneath a blue sky. Not only are Just a Dream 's illustrations some of the most striking Van Allsburg has ever created, but the text is his best yet. Van Allsburg has sacrificed none of the powerful, otherworldly spirit that suffuses his earlier works, and he has taken a step forward by bringing this spirit to bear on a vitally important issue. His fable builds to an urgent plea for action as it sends a rousing message of hope. All ages.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5-- Walter, an environmental ignoramus of a 10 year old, is careless or scornful of such elementary actions as recycling or tree planting. One nightmarish evening, however, he visits a future where his daydreams of technological paradise are demolished. Instead, there is merely a horrifically exacerbated continuation of today's eco-problems: landfills, expressways, smog, lifeless oceans, and vanished wilderness. Walter awakens reformed, and is rewarded with another dream: the future redeemed. As the story exhibits Van Allsburg's "signature" character (a child free of adult supervision) and plot (the dream-vision), so the pictures display the hallmarks of the artist's style: bird's- and worm's-eye perspectives, dramatic lighting effects, some geometric simplification of forms. Wordless double-page spreads alternate with pages of text and small vignettes. The abstract beauty of the images produces a curious tension with the idea of a barren and ugly future; the stylized orderliness of the art is itself eerily disturbing. That this depicts the nightmare of a child may excuse some inconsistencies (in an utterly ruined environment would trees still be cut down for toothpicks?), but the real disappointment comes at the end. Walter's utopian vision is an unchildlike nostalgia trip: a suburban reprise of the '40s. Such a sentimental and parochially narrow vision of a future for a privileged few is the chief failure of this well-meaning effort. --Patricia Dooley, University of Washington, Seattle
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Chris Van Allsburg is the winner of two Caldecott Medals, for Jumanji and The Polar Express, as well as the recipient of a Caldecott Honor Book for The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. The author and illustrator of numerous picture books for children, he has also been awarded the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement in children's literature. In 1982, Jumanji won the National Book Award and in 1996, it was made into a popular feature film. Chris Van Allsburg was formerly an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife and two children.

Customer Reviews

This book can be our dreamland trip into the future and help us make needed changes.
Terrie
The beautiful illustrations are used in a creative manner as to allow the children to explore prediction of what will happen next in the story.
Amanda Snatchko
If I could pick from any book that I already read, I would pick this book as the best one.
J. Cooper

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is my FAVORITE children's environmental book. Chris Van Allsburg's illustrations are fabulous, as always, and greatly add to the drama of the story. I am an environmental educator and read this book to students (5th-6th grade) at the end of every week at outdoor school. This is a great book to read aloud, especially because of the way the illustrations are separate from the text. What I love about this book is that it is in the end very hopeful. Walter's first dreams of the future show a world of great environmental problems, based on his actions of not caring in the present; but when he changes his ways, the future changes also. I like to emphasize this when reading it to students: The future is not written yet, but we are creating it every day with the choices we make. This is definitely a children's environmental literature classic, along with Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" and Lynne Cherry's "The Great Kapok Tree," but is even better for older children.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
AT EIGHTEEN THIS IS STILL AT THE TOP OF MY "YOU MUST OWN THIS BOOK" LIST. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THE GENERATIONS TO COME LEARN OF WHAT ENVIRONMENTAL NIGHTMARES ARE GOING ON AROUND THEM AND WHAT THEY CAN DO TO HELP. WE TELL CHILDREN WHAT THEY CAN DO WHEN IT'S TOO LATE AND WHEN THEY HAVE GROWN TOO APATHETIC. THIS BOOK IS AN EXCELLENT TOOL FOR TEACHERS AND PARENTS TO HELP PREVENT THEIR CHILDREN FROM FALLING INTO THIS TRAP. VAN ALLSBURG'S AMAZING WORDS AND ILLISTARATIONS WILL KEEP ANYONE SPELLBOUND AMD CATALYSE A DESIRE TO HELP. WE MUST ENGAGE THOSE WHO ARE SOON TO BE THE ADULTS OF OUR SOCIETY IN ACTIONS THAT WILL MAKE FOR A BETTER, CLEANER, AND HEALTIER EARTH; THIS BOOK WILL HELP!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a second grade teacher, I was able to teach the importance of recycling and respecting mother earth with this story. The children were captivated by the book and many picked up trash later on the playground. I have even noticed less trash and more recycled goods in the classroom. I recommend this book for children of all ages and even some adults!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Chris Van Allsburg has done it again. This book helps kids get a better understanding of why being a litterbug isn't cool. His illustrations are awesome. I wanted to be able to be in the pictures with Walter (the main character). Everybody that litters should read this book. Our world would be a more beautiful place.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Have you ever wanted to see what the world is like in the future? Well some people might not be ready to see it. This story shows how the earth has to be protected by everyone.
Walter is a young boy that doesn't care much about the earth. One day he has a donut bag that he tosses on a fire hydrant. That night he is watching a TV show about a boy in the future. He sees that people will have little planes and robots.
So that night he has a dream, his bed takes him years into the future. He finds that the world will be totally different. Walter notices that trees need to be protected because they are being cut down for wrong purposes. Walter finds out about what pollution does to the world. And Walter witnesses advances in science. Walter's bed takes him back to the present. Walter decides that he wants to make the world a better place. And for his birthday he gets a small tree like his neighbor got for her birthday. Then that night his bed takes him away, to the future, again.
I thought the book was interesting because a boy who doesn't think much about the world sees what the world will be like if it is not protected. It was cool that he was moved by what he had seen. And I think I would have tried to clean up too.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Snatchko on November 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book surpasses the racism and stereotypes that undermine much of what children's literature has been in the past. It takes children on a ride through dreams and brings them to the realization that our environment is ours to take care of. The beautiful illustrations are used in a creative manner as to allow the children to explore prediction of what will happen next in the story. This book is for young and old alike and should be a staple in all children's classrooms.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book, teaches children a lesson on how to respect the environment. Its illustrations paint pictures in our minds and help us to realize the consequences of every action that we make. It also tells us that the future with all the high technology and stuff won't always make us happy. Even if we have all the things in the world we want we may still no be happy.
When Walter goes to sleep, he travels the future to see all the different things that may happen to him. During these dreams he sees different things that kind of make him aware that it is important to take care of the environment.
This book is a great way to teach children to take the time to appreciate all the beautiful things of nature and to recycle and take care of the earth. ~Kellie~
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Terrie on November 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Chris Van Allsburg's wonderful illustrations and gently chiding lesson about protecting the environment make an important addition to children's literature that is also very enjoyable to read since it is told with characteristic humor and warmth. What changes would you make in your lifestyle if you, like the story's young Walter could see into the future and discover the ramifications of your actions? Walter is fortunate to travel into the future to receive his "wake-up call" while we must use our conscious minds to create a happy future one act at a time as we live in the now. This book can be our dreamland trip into the future and help us make needed changes.
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