December 20, 2010
The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Peter Sis
by Pam Munoz Ryan
illustrated by Peter Sis
I am so glad that I saw a recommendation on this book. Ryan has created a fictionalized tale based on the childhood and adolescence of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.
Think this doesn’t sound like a topic with great kid appeal? Think again. Neruda as a child is definitely someone that a lot of children will identify with, because:
- He was very small.
- He was interested in things that his father thought were ridiculous.
- He very much wanted to be loved and to love his father.
- He noticed things that went completely unseen by the adults around him.
- He spent a lot of time in his imagination.
Neruda loved to observe the outdoors — the flash of beetles, the soaring flight of birds, the roar of the ocean. He took care of a wounded swan, collected every little thing from the natural world that he could lay his hands on, and connected deeply with his uncle the editor of a militant newspaper (they supported Native rights).
This book will appeal to reluctant readers if they can get past its size — 372 pages. Yes, that’s long. But the font size is huge for a book for this audience and it has illustrations between chapters.
Neruda was an avid reader, which might put reluctant readers off, but they will love how at odds he was with many of the adults in his life and often with his older brother.
Young poets will love the samplings of his poems and anyone who reads this will find themselves going to the library catalog to request some of his work.
Share this with the young reader in your life. If you make it a read aloud experience, they’ll know you are more like Neruda’s step mother and, coming from a book-loving Mom, that’s a good thing since she was a book lover too.
Take a chance on a book that might be outside of what you are familiar with because you won’t regret it.