Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pablo Neruda- The Dreamer

Pamela Munoz Ryan is one of my favorite authors, so when I heard that she had written a fictionalized story about the life of poet Pablo Neruda, I knew I had to get my hands on the book. The Dreamer was not what I expected, but it was a perfect homage to Neruda and was a delight to read. 
I was expecting a young adult book, or at the very least a book for upper middle-grade. Pablo Neruda is a sophisticated romantic (read racy) Chilean poet. The book is suggested for a wide middle-grade audience from grade 4 to grade 9, dipping down low into fourth grade was not what I'd anticipated. The book itself is weighty and long, 384 pages. But it is filled with gorgeous drawings, whimsical poetry and light-hearted visual imagery that seem to match the character of the fictionalized Chilean boy, Neftali Reyes who sees, hears and feels poetry all around him from an early age. The story is hefty enough to engage an older reader but the drawings that hint at the story ahead are engaging enough to draw in younger readers who will be intrigued by Neftali and want to know why such drawings are on the page, and wonder where the drawings will lead them.  
As NeftalĂ­ grows into a teen, he becomes increasingly aware of the plight of the indigenous Mapuche in his Chilean homeland. Pamela Munoz Ryan does a wonderful job of integrating these themes of social injustice, neither overwhelming nor becoming secondary to NeftalĂ­’s story.

For any readers who loved Pamela Munoz Ryan's Esperanza Rising or (my own personal favorite) Becoming Naomi Leon, her fans, here, will be equally entranced by her writing and storytelling, and moved by Sis' illustrations. The Dreamer would also be appreciated by any young reader (or old!) who doesn't feel like a natural fit in traditional academic surroundings or who likes to color outside of the lines. Feeling, seeing and hearing creatively all around you can feel like a curse if your surroundings are asking you to behave, but Pablo Neruda and The Dreamer teach us to not snuff out the candle, the world needs to see and be warmed by that special and unique light!  


Post a Comment