Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Dreamer

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan. Illustrated by Peter Sis. Published 2010 by Scholastic.

Again, I'm behind the times with this read but it's been on my list for a while. I've always been attracted to the starry silhouette gracing the cover over the field of silvery blues and greens. Over the years of hearing about this book, I was surprised I didn't know the identity of Neftali until the end. This was a nice surprise for me and for that reason I will not reveal whom this book is really about. I think it gives the title more poignancy knowing that it was based on a true story though.

In this magical realism read, a young, weak boy with a stutter spends his time day dreaming and collecting treasures from the world against his father's wishes. He is constantly in fear of the bulking presence of his father and the choices he makes that are contradictory to his father's wishes. Through the calming presences and love of his grandmother and siblings, Neftali finally makes choices that are best for him though it takes growth over the whole novel for him to be able to do this. Interspersed with poetry and pointillist illustrations, this is a gem of a little biographical novel.

Intended reading level: Grades 4-8
Genre: Magical realism, historical fiction

Questions to the Reader: How did Neftali come to the decision to change his name? Why do you believe the sheep was so important to him? Why did Neftali have his sister give Blanca the stone?

Read-alikes: Summer of the Mariposas, My Name is Not Easy

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