- Age Range: 9 and up
- Lexile Measure: 660 (What's this?)
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 1, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780521839181
- ISBN-13: 978-0439269988
- ASIN: 0439269989
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 7.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 72 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Dreamer Paperback – March 1, 2012
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Pen Center USA Literary Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature
*“An immaculately crafter and inspiring piece of text and art.” --Publishers Weekly, starred review
*“. . . rich, resonant and enchanting.” --Kirkus, starred review
*“The perfect marriages of text and art.” --School Library Journal, starred review
*“ This book has all the feel of a classic, elegant and measured, but deeply rewarding and eminently readable.” --Booklist, starred review
*“[A] masterful tribute.”–Horn Book, starred review
“Ryan's hypnotic text, inspired by the childhood of Pablo Neruda, is brought to life by the extraordinary art of Peter Sis.”–New York Times Book Review
“A phantasmagorical rumination on the childhood of the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda is rooted in a belief that words possess the power to mend the spirit and change the world.”--Smithsonian Notable List
About the Author
Peter Sís is a Hans Christian Anderson Award winner, a three-time Caldecott Honoree, a Sibert Award winner, and a MacArthur Fellow. He is the illustrator of Pam Muñoz Ryan's The Dreamer, a Pura Belpré Award winner, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book, and an ALA Notable. Sís's many celebrated picture books, including Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei, Tibet Through the Red Box, and The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, are treasured by readers all over the world. His most recent picture book, Ice Cream Summer, was hailed by Kirkus Reviews in a starred review as “an encomium to summer, to the power of learning, and to that beloved, creamy-cold treat.” When Peter isn’t traveling the globe eating ice cream, he creates picture books and fine art that can be seen in galleries, museums, and public spaces from New York to Los Angeles, London to Prague, and lots of cities in between. Visit Peter online and learn more about his award-winning books at www.petersis.com.
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Let me say that I am a "biased-by-pleasure-and-admiration" fan of Pam Munoz Ryan and of Pablo Neruda, so that is the basis from which I come; I like/love much that these two people have contributed to the writing/reading world, each in her/his own way.
I find Pam Munoz Ryan to be an author of deep worth, with a special, artfully-delivered and thoughtful voice, so good for our children -- when her writings are chosen with care for age and maturity, as her subjects she tackles are not uniformly "easy".
I can imagine reading The Dreamer -- and sharing many reflective moments -- with a child of at least 11 (I would say, no younger). Also, I can conceive of a teacher of deep sensitivity and caring carving out the time to share it with her/his class, thoughtfully, over some days, with plenty of time for discussion, contemplation and, perhaps making it a part of a history-English block, as well.
No easy story, in the painful aspects of much of Neftali's/Pablo's young life, but so worthwhile; should spark further reading of Neruda (by older young people and adults), some exploration into Chile, human rights considerations...
If offered appropriately, age and maturity-wise, I think this would speak so well to the artistic, tender hearts of young people who love to read, to write and create; who perhaps are trying to find their ways in relating to Life, adults, insecurities, shyness, being understood and in treasuring and protecting -- and, finding "safe" ways to share -- their personal uniqueness and gifts.
I would offer again, however, that I'm not certain that this is a book to be shared with very tender-hearted children until parents/teachers feel they are able to handle the pages and pages of beauty "imprisoned" especially in the hardness, unkindness, fear-driven and apparently unfeeling aspects of the father. There is certainly opportunity to discuss what a "healthy" family environment might look like, how people (such as the loving stepmother, the talented older brother, the younger sister, the uncle) "make do", try to survive, or show courage and resolve in dealing with (or not) fear-inducing dysfunctional family relationships.
In The Dreamer, there is redemption; there are many opportunities for personal reflection and for hearing Neftali's/Pablo's singing heart-within-the-pain; I found there to be beauty on every page.
This beautifully written story about the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, with its charming illustrations by Peter Sis and poignant examples of Neruda’s own poetry, make this an upper middle grades book that I revisit often. “How does Munoz accomplish such mastery?” I asked myself. As a new writer, I was determined to learn from her writing.
The more I reread the first chapter, the more mesmerized I became. I had never read such musical prose. Every important word landed squarely on the beat, and each paragraph seemed to have its own time signature. When the story developed into a frenzy, it seemed as if the pace gradually accelerated until it spun off-kilter, much like the young poet’s life.
However it was that Ms. Ryan wove those words together, she captured the angst of young Pablo’s life, as well as the timid joy he derived from his budding artistry. I ached for the childhood he had, and the childhood he didn’t have. Readers will grow in their compassion, in their artistry, and also in their awareness of social injustices.
A note of caution regarding the younger reader – This story presents many opportunities for thoughtful discussion. Parents and teachers should offer guidance through some of the more difficult scenes that show a parent whose actions are often cruel. It is not a story to be quickly read and cast aside.
I recently had an opportunity to hear Ms. Ryan speak at a local college. As she introduced herself, and spoke of her experience with music during her middle school years, I thought, “Aha! She IS a musician!” But her own story revealed merely a couple of short-lived attempts in that arena: one positive experience that failed after her instrument became damaged, and another musical experience that actually led her to her love of writing.
When given an opportunity to ask a question, I asked her, “Did you intentionally write each of your paragraphs in a specific time signature?” She smiled, and simply said, “No. I just read it aloud, and read it often, until the words sounded right.”
Whatever limited musical experiences Ms. Ryan had in her own childhood, she learned the joys of both music and prose well enough to inspire us in The Dreamer.