The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan

dreamerCindy: Am I the only one who sometimes pays dearly for not reading a book’s flap copy before reading the book? If I’m looking for a book to read I’ll read the flap, but if I already know I want to read a certain book, I don’t like to know too much about it before reading it, but sometimes my tactic back fires. I just read the galley of The Dreamer (Scholastic, 2010) under these circumstances and almost bailed on the book thinking that I just didn’t want to read another book about a kid whose dreams are squashed by a domineering arts-hating father.  But I did like the writing and Sis’s illustrations are perfect for the text. And the book has already racked up 5  starred reviews so I continued. Finally I realized that this was a fictionalized biography of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. The father’s negative influence most assuredly factors into Pablo’s dual role as poet and revolutionary against injustice.  I read this in galley but the finished book with the complete artwork of Peter Sis is even more impressive. Ryan brings the landscape to life as much as the characters and her close observations combined with the art are perfectly suited to describing the story of a poet’s life. The selection of some of Neruda’s poems will help young readers make the connection between his work and the question format of some of the book’s full page spreads. All in all, readers are left with plenty of questions to think about during the long summer days ahead.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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