Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review: The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan

Title: The Dreamer
Author: Pam Munoz Ryan
Illustrator: Peter Sis
Genre: Children's Literature
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Published: 2010
Pages: 384

Rating: 8 out of 10

A book-related website that I barely ever check sent me something about how I could win a free book if I filled out a survey. I doubted that there were any books, and if there were, of course I wouldn't win one, but for some reason, in my boredom I filled out the survey anyways.
Months passed, and I got a mysterious package in the mail. It was from the website, saying congratulations, you've won a book!
It seemed to be a children's book, and even had drawings in it. Not the type of book I'd ever read, but I decided to read it anyways, in time to trade it in to the bookstore I would be visiting on the weekend.

This one, however, is not going anywhere. It is staying firmly on my shelves for all time.

At once, this book catches the reader almost alarmingly with its gorgeous prose, its simplistic storytelling, its innocent but perceptively childlike analogies, and beautiful, lyrically written style.

Though normally I cannot connect with young children as main characters, I related to Neftali, and will not be forgetting him anytime soon.
His struggles with his family, his love of stories both in his head and on paper, and his outlook on life - hopeful, but also depressingly realistic - were very endearing.

The beauty of this book is a tribute to the poet that our main character would become, the famous Pablo Neruda.
Pam Munoz Ryan and is an author who is known to me, and I have read two of her other books (Esperanza Rising and Riding Freedom). Both were good, especially since I read them when I was younger, but she has truly outdone herself here. I am very much looking forward to what she writes next, because this is unquestionably her masterpiece.

You really just must read this wonderful story to appreciate it. It really is beautiful, and I found myself jotting down a few little phrases here and there, just because they deserve to remembered.
Such as, Neftali wonders about "the color of a minute," hears "the river breathing," watches the sea "bowing" to him and listening to its "thunderous applause," and calls his writing "the remnants of his soul."
All of those, especially the last one, were very striking. I most likely would have remembered them without even making a note of them.

I cannot leave out Peter Sis - the illustrator. His drawings are simple, and very childlike. They suit the book perfectly. Ones that stuck out for me were:
- An ocean with islands contained in a spoon
- A bird made of words rising out of a fire
- A tiny sprout growing from a tree trunk that has been freshly cut

This is just a beautiful book that I would recommend to anyone of any age.