The Dreamer is the story of Pablo Neruda. As the jacket flap says, “Combining elements of magical realism with biography, poetry, literary fiction, and sensorial, transporting illustrations, Pam Munoz Ryan and Peter Sis take readers on a rare journey of the heart and imagination.” A rare journey indeed…through words and sounds, colors and emotions, joy and agony.
The collector in me immediately connected with the shy, determined Neftali. His shelves of feathers, rocks, shells and nests and his daily joy in looking at and seeing the wonders around him spoke to me. His days of dreaming and wondering are like quiet meditations. Those calm languid feelings collide abruptly with the harsh anger and bitter barked commands as his father enters the story. Neftali is never enough, never quite right, never important. His moments of shame and humiliation are painful stinging slaps stinging showing another side of reality. Never enough, until finally, Neftali Reyes in becoming Pablo Neruda found the way to follow his heart without shaming his family name.
The words, the pictures, the poems make this a strikingly beautiful book, but it is not for everyone – lovers of action and a tightly woven plot will likely find the pace tedious, but readers who savor the shimmer of well polished words like these when Neftali first sees the ocean…
“Neftali’s breath caught in his throat at the sight of the infinite colors and the gentle curve of the faraway horizon. He had never imagined the height of the white spray breaking against the rocks, the dark sand, or the air that whispered of fish and salt. He stood, captivated, feeling small and insignificant, and at the same time as if he belonged to something much grander.”
… will enjoy each and every moment.