Monday, August 15, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan

About The Book: Neftali finds beauty and wonder everywhere: in the oily colors of mud puddles; a lost glove, sailing on the wind; the music of birds and language. He loves to collect treasures, daydream, and write--pastimes his authoritarian father thinks are for fools. Against all odds, Neftali prevails against his father's cruelty and his own crippling shyness to become one of the most widely read poets in the world, Pablo Neruda. This moving story about the birth of an artist is also a celebration of childhood, imagination, & the strength of the creative spirit. Sure to inspire young writers & artists. -Goodreads

Book Design: The Dreamer's design was carefully planned and executed to encourage the reader to pause and reflect. Prize winning illustrator Peter Sis has managed to create a poetic pause at the beginning of each chapter. Green words, amply spaced on cream colored paper, soft to the touch colludes with the authors words to create a sense of wonder and pause. This is one of those books you will want to own, hold in your hands and read again and again.  

First Line: "On a continent of many songs, in a country shaped like the arm of a tall guitarrista, the rain drummed down on the town of Temuco."

Two lines I wish I'd written:  "...something about Father's overzealous enthusiasm pried a tiny splinter of doubt from his mind." (135) "A thin, winding fear began to worm through Neftali's mind." (294)

Awesome Character Quote: "There is always a way to do what you love." -by Augusto

What Others Are Saying:  "Author Pam Munoz Ryan not only hits the highlights of the poet's young life but, through her careful research, exquisite writing and whimsical poems, brings readers into Neruda's curious, sound-enthralled mind. How delightful to see the future writer of odes to bicycles, socks and other ordinary things first ponder the rain's "piano of wet notes" and the "ghostly hands" of lost mittens."  --Washington Post
What I Thought:  Ok, shoot me but I love literary fiction even when it's a middle school read. I loved Ryan's lyrical prose and was transported to Neftali's world of magical realism where questions rule. Inspired by the life and poetry of Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda, Ryan artfully guides us through everyday events that Neftali explores, much like Neruda might have. I'm intrigued by how well her narration flows together. I found myself rereading passages aloud just to feel the luscious words on my tongue. By addressing the question of the worth of art, I was able to reflect on my creative journey and understand my need to interpret the world around me. I'm usually not one to read a book more than once, but The Dreamer is one that I want on my shelf and I wouldn't be surprised if I read it again next year. 

Awards/Lists:   Booklist Books for Middle Readers-2010; Boston
Globe Horn Book Honor- 2010–Fiction & Poetry; Pura Belpre Author Award Winner-2011; National Parenting Publications Award–GOLD; Book Industry Guild of New York (Best Book Design); Kirkus Best Children’s Books of 2010; Smithsonian Notable Book
About The Author: Pam Munoz Ryan
Great Interview here!
Agent: Kendra Marcus with BookStop Literary
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

Who: Ryan was born on December 25, 1951. She grew up in California's San Joaquin Valley, where the summers were long and hot. Because it was air-conditioned, she began going to the public library regularly. That's when she got hooked on reading, and she knew she wanted a career involving books.  --More here.

Why: “Part of the appeal of writing is similar to the enchantment of reading. They are both quests. Except when I write, I’m the creator and choose the path. I can be as strong as Charlotte in Riding Freedom, as adventurous as Amelia and Eleanor in Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride, and as determined as Marian Anderson in When Marian Sang. I can begin as one type of character and evolve into another, like Esperanza in Esperanza Rising and Naomi in Becoming Naomi León. Or, I can sort out the issues of life by way of the unexpected journeys I take with my characters, as I did with Maya in Paint the Wind.”

When: "From the fifth grade on, I was obsessive about books, but  I never considered writing them. I didn’t start writing until after I graduated from college, married, had four children, and went back to school to get my master’s degree. After I turned in a project to a professor, she asked me if I’d ever considered professional writing. Coincidentally, within a few weeks, a colleague at a school where my children attended, asked me if I would help her write a book. After I started  I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of writing my own stories, and one thing led to another."
More of Pam Munoz Ryan

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  1. Those lines from The Dreamer are incredible. Thanks for this post.

  2. Pam,

    First off, I love your reviews. They are so organized and well-written.

    Second, no way am I going to shoot you for raving about lyricism. This book sounds like a worthy tribute to Neruda, who I adore. I'm going hunting for it right now.

  3. I really like this cover. And the two quotes you chose were beautiful writing. I agree with Michael, your reviews are great.

  4. Thanks everyone! It really means a lot to know you enjoy my reviews. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Nice cover. The "Awesome Character Quote" is....well, awesome. Something to think about.

  6. Wow, this sounds like a book that many beyond middle graders would love!


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