cover image Ready to Dream

Ready to Dream

Donna Jo Napoli, Elena Furrow, , illus. by Bronwyn Bancroft. . Bloomsbury, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-59990-049-0

Quiet dignity marks Napoli (Stones in Water ), Furrow and Aboriginal artist Bancroft's account of a child's encounter with Australia and its indigenous artists. Ally, an American girl, is interested in art as a product and fears mistakes; Pauline, a shamanlike Aboriginal painter, encourages Ally to see past appearances. In the mother-daughter team's respectful text, Pauline says, “Every picture has a story to tell. Let the lorikeet dream its story.” By the close of her monthlong trip, Ally can perceive without judging. When the wind blows away a sand picture they've made, she rejoices: “Our picture's everywhere.” Pauline tells her, “Now you're ready to dream.” Using the earthen pigments, heavy outlines and decorative dots and swirls of indigenous Australian art, Bancroft pictures Ally and Pauline from the same side-on view throughout, while the text runs like subtitles along the bottom of the page; the effect is like a documentary. A useful introduction to a radically different culture, and a fine portrait of a child and her mentor. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)