The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan and Peter Sis is a magical book that is geared toward older children and young adult readers. Adults, too, will find themselves immersed in the beautifully flowing words and uniquely moving art found in the pages of The Dreamer.
The Dreamer is a fictionalized account of the childhood of the celebrated Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-1973). As poetically told by Pam Munoz Ryan and movingly illustrated by Peter Sis, Pablo Neruda began his life as Neftali Reyes, a thin and sickly boy who spends his time daydreaming, collecting eclectic objects of interest to him, and writing poetry.
Neftali is the son of an abusive father and a stepmother who clearly does not agree with her husband’s child rearing but is afraid to intercede. Neftali’s father communicates by blowing a whistle, loudly, and by insulting his children and forbidding their creative impulses.
Neftali’s father commands him to swim in the rough ocean waves along with his younger sister – only to be told that he doesn’t swim well enough. Rather than drowning in this haunting childhood, Neftali is drawn into the world of words and books and poetry. He reads and writes against his father’s iron will.
As he approaches adulthood, writing is the essence of Neftali’s very being. Neftali secretly writes under a name of his own choosing, Pablo Neruda, so that his father does not have to be embarrassed or enraged over his son’s poetry.
Pablo Neruda went on to become one of the most acclaimed poets of our time, and in 1971 won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Author Pam Munoz Ryan has written over 30 books, including Esperanza Rising, and has received numerous well-deserved accolades and awards, including the National Education Association’s Human and Civil Rights Award and the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award for multicultural literature. Her graceful literary style reflects her own multicultural childhood in California’s San Joaquin Valley and her adult years in the San Diego area.
Author and illustrator Peter Sis has received numerous impressive accolades and awards. He is a MacArthur Fellow, a Sibert Award winner, and a Caldecott Honoree. Other acclaimed books by Peter Sis include Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei and The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin. Peter Sis was born in Czechoslovakia and now lives in the New York City area.
The Dreamer, published by Scholastic in April 2010, is available in Los Angeles area Barnes and Noble and Borders bookstores and can be ordered through Amazon.com.