The Dreamer

Pam Munoz Ryan, Author, Peter Sis, Illustrator , illus. by Peter Sís. Scholastic Press $17.99 (372p) ISBN 978-0-439-26970-4

Ryan's (Paint the Wind ) wandering and imaginative prose and Sís's (The Wall ) quietly haunting art fuse in this fictionalized account of Pablo Neruda's upbringing in the small town of Temuco, Chile. Precocious, terribly shy, and insightful, Neruda (known then by his birth name, Neftalí Reyes) is curious about all facets of life, particularly the wonders of nature. “He stood, captivated, feeling small and insignificant, and at the same time as if he belonged to something much grander,” writes Ryan when Neftalí first sees the ocean. His role model is his uncle Orlando, who owns the local newspaper, but his domineering father has no patience for the boy's daydreaming and love of reading and writing, which ultimately provokes Neftalí's passion for finding his own voice. Printed in green ink (as is the text), Sís's stippled illustrations provide surreal visual teasers for each chapter. Larger images pair with poetic questions (“Is fire born of words? Or are words born of fire?”) that echo Neruda's The Book of Questions . Stressing “the importance of following dreams and staying determined,” the book is an immaculately crafted and inspiring piece of magical realism. Ages 9–14. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/15/2010
Release date: 04/01/2010
Genre: Children's
Compact Disc - 4 pages - 978-0-545-22339-3
Paperback - 358 pages - 978-0-545-17600-2
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-61574-944-7
Prebound-Glued - 358 pages - 978-0-606-14701-9
Paperback - 373 pages - 978-0-439-26998-8
Prebound-Glued - 373 pages - 978-0-606-23940-0
Prebound-Glued - 373 pages - 978-1-61383-375-9
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