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Parents' Guide to

The Dreamer

By Debra Bogart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Lyrical, ficionalized biography of famed poet Pablo Neruda.

The Dreamer Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 1 parent review

age 12+

Lovely for a few; limited appeal for most

Very well written and presented, with exceptionally appropriate and evocative illustrations for the story. The story flows very well between regular text, some sound effects in special fonts, the illustrations of the story itself, and illustrations of Neruda questions. I also must compliment the book's successfully educational side, introducing readers to themes in Neruda poems, background in his interests, and providing a picture of a different time and life style. However, I suspect it will only appeal to kids of a certain sensibility. For kids who don't themselves feel ecstatic, mystic communion with nature, or find insight via Zen/Sufi/Neruda style questions, the story may feel primarily negative as Neruda's father is relentlessly oppressive. So while some kid readers may find this book speaks directly and powerfully to them, many other kids will likely find the story boring and baffling. Some books with semi-related themes that I consider more generally accessible would be: "The Man in the Ceiling" by Jules Feiffer (the struggles of an artist as a child with his own limitations, a father who doesn't understand, and critics -- plus it has an uncle mentor), or "Steinbeck's Ghost" by Lewis Buzbee (magical realism, the power of art/writing, and finding a mentor) -- though neither of those books incorporates nature as a healing, nurturing influence in the way of "The Dreamer". For age recommendation, for the "right" reader this could go younger (9 or 10?) -- the sole area of concern is the emotional cruelty of the father -- but in terms of appeal, 12+ may be more likely to appreciate it.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (3 ):

Based on anecdotes from the life of Neftale Reyes (Pablo Neruda), Ryan has created a series of scenes that form an enchanting and vivid life story. inspiring and satisfying, THE DREAMER reads almost like a fairy tale, with its elements of cruelty and beauty that had an equal power over the childhood of one enormously gifted and sensitive soul. The incorporation of quotations in the form of questions that make up each illustration (by the very gifted Peter Sis) allows the story to flow effortlessly, and lifts it with the redemptive quality that seemed so strong in Neruda's character.

Beautifully done, this story could be a starting place for many discussions about the value of art and the role of an artist in society. Lyrical quotes and illustrations by Peter Sis combine to carry the story in a dream-like flow that reveals the nature of Pablo Neruda the way a flower unfolds into an incomparable object of beauty.

Book Details

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