cover image THE DREAM SHOP


Katharine Kenah, , illus. by Peter Catalanotto. . HarperCollins, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-17900-7

By willing herself at bedtime to imagine "wooden horses prancing backwards," a girl named Pip transports herself to a magical store where, "the aisles are full of dream shoppers in pajamas, staring and sorting through things on shelves." The shelves' contents feed the shoppers' nighttime fantasies. The story turns dark when she meets up with her cousin Joseph, who has a penchant for scary dreams, and the two accidentally unleash a small dragon in the "natural disasters" section of the store. Kenah's (Eggs Over Easy) imagery-charged prose describes the aftermath: "Bottles of lightning shattered to bits… Earthquakes rolled like waves down the aisle." Up to this point, Catalanotto's (Emily's Art) handsome watercolor spreads depict a comically surrealistic landscape; he imagines the Dream Shop as a kind of REM-sleep Home Depot, the shelves neatly stacked with items like astronauts, giant bugs and eye-festooned plants. But his vision of the dragon-induced chaos may truly frighten some children—a Götterdämmerung-like scene of terrified people in their nightclothes being swept away by tides and stampeded by elephants. Pip bravely restores order, and the next day even brings the fulfillment of her own dearest dream. But the narrative peaks too late, and the resolution feels rushed, perhaps because the conceit's set-up requires a good share of the earlier pages. Still, Kenah and Catalanotto give readers a window-shopping tour that's worth the trip. Ages 6-up. (Jan.)