Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Just a Dream” as Want to Read:
Just a Dream
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Just a Dream

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,372 ratings  ·  287 reviews
Young Walter litters and refuses to sort trash for recycling, until he dreams of an overcrowded and polluted future which terrifies him into taking care of the earth.
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published 1990 by Houghton Mifflin Company
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Just a Dream, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Just a Dream

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,372 ratings  ·  287 reviews

Sort order
This is one of those books that came out when being green was a top notch priority while everyone was trying to get rich on offering helpful tips whether some of them made sense or not. At the same time although the concept was a good one there were some works that didn't carry quite as pressing a message while in a sense I would say this is one of them.

This isn't the type of book that you want children to learn to read on since the writing is in a large paragraph while at the same time being
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Walter hasn't got time to consider the immediate world around him. He doesn't want to think about preservation or conservation or doing his part to look after the planet: his eyes and mind are set on the future in which he can own an aeroplane and have a robot do all his work for him. So when he sees that his neighbour, Rose, shows him her birthday present: a tree planted in her back yard, he scoffs and heads off to sleep.
But Walter's dreams are full of uncomfortable and portentous visions. Vie
Eve Leuzinger
A beautiful picture book where you don't feel the loss of a written narrative at all. The illustrations within this text encourage the reader to engage and view the story from a range of perspectives, this would be a great book to illustrate the variations of storytelling to KS2.

Within KS2 this book holds a lot of potential for exploring variations in perception and the acceptance of this. Would also be great in aiding children to approach picture books and challenging topics with an open mind
Jane G Meyer
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-books
Just a Dream is a picture book that focuses on encouraging kids to think about the environment, and how the choices they make today will affect them in the future. I'm all for such books, but this one falls short, and with picture books being as expensive as they are, I wouldn't choose to spend my money on this one...

Two reasons: though I like the idea of reading books to our kids about doing their part in keeping this planet clean and healthy, the concept of this book sings of cliche and reads
Marc Bisson
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Just A Dream is about a boy named Walter who will often leave trash on the ground and hates the idea of getting a tree for his birthday. One night when he falls asleep, he is taken into the future on his bed and he sees what life would be like if we don't take care of it. In the end, he changes his views on nature and keeping the Earth clean, and he is again brought back into the future where a tree he planted is admired by distant relatives.

With beautiful writing and fantastic pictures by Chris
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is suddenly feeling really relevant again...

I had this book when I was a kid and I still think about it all the time, when I'm deciding whether to bother rinsing out a can so I can recycle it or just toss it in the trash, for example. I think about the illustration of the crumpled donut wrapper and I rinse out the can.
Graham Lazar
I am perhaps not the most objective judge of Van Allsburg's "Just a Dream," as this is an author and illustrator I have grown up with and subsequently built into my curriculum as a first-year 3rd grade teacher. I find his illustrations most elusive and stimulating. Just a Dream does not disappoint in this regard, with Van Allsburg's trusted vision as an illustrator.

The narrative itself provides an explicit, if a bit didactic, teaching of environmental ethics. A young boy, Walter, dreams of a fu
Well, I would say that I expected more from Van Allsburg, but I'd read my sister's excellent review before I read the book ( so I knew I probably wasn't going to love this one too much. Still, it could have been so much better! Maybe I'm being a bit too hard on it because it's Van Allsburg, but the imagination aspect here was just so overpowered by the didactic, dim nature of the story I couldn't enjoy it at all. The storytelling was bland and predictable ...more
Linda Lipko
Jul 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book was a disappointment. Accustomed to the author's incredible stories and illustrations, when compared to others, this fell flat.

A boy who litters and does not help in taking care of his environment, dreams that his bed is floating above areas where the environment is destroyed, including finding a hotel at the top of Mt. Everest.

I don't do well with stories that are preachy. I'm always left wondering if these folk practice what they preach.

Perhaps I'm too critical, but I simply react t
Angie Kohout
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: K-5
Plot: Walter is young man about to have a birthday. He seems careless and wreckless with this actions in regards to the environment until he goes to bed where his dreams take him to the future.

Setting: United States

Characters: Walter, Rose, and various unnamed people Walter meets in his dreams.

Point-of view: Third person

Theme: environmental impact, recycling.

Style: Children's fiction, traditional story structure.

Notes: Loved this book! Would be great for sharing with little ones and discussing w
Courtney Barter
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kidlit
This book hit home for me. I have always been someone who wants to take care of the Earth. After all, we only have one Earth to live on. In this book, Walter has a dream where he visits the future and sees horrendous things that could easily be prevented right now on Earth. When he wakes up, he is motivated to clean up the world around him and take care of Earth. Beautiful illustrations. Illustrator Project Book.
The Docta
Jul 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Not a realistic end but a nice message all the same. Creative depiction of important idea.
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: educ542, own
Summary: Van Allsburg captures readers immediately in his well-liked book, Just a Dream. The story begins with a boy, Walter, who does not have a care in the world about the environment. So much so that he purposely hurries through chores and even throws trash directly on the ground. He falls asleep one night and dreams of the future. Each experience shows the damage done by past generations who feel the way Walter does about the environment. The story terrifies him page after page, seeing the p ...more
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: author-study
This book is realistic fiction where it changes to fantasy and back to realistic fiction. The many words of Chris Van Allsburg tells the stories of a wild adventure a young child takes. This young boy did not have a care in the world about the effects of littering until one night during his dreams, his bed traveled to different areas. These places were not fun to visit due to the ugliness and pollution that has taken over.

Van Allsburg uses his vivid and capturing illustrations to play a huge ro
Nov 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Walter is simply not an environmentalist: he’s a litterbug who sees no reason to sort trash and recycle. While he is watching a television show about the future, his next-door neighbor, Rose, is watering her birthday present: a tree. Walter thinks it’s the most ridiculous present he’s ever seen.

Walter wishes he could visit the future, and, one night, his dream comes true. But the future is not the one he envisioned. There are no personal airplanes to zip around in, no robots to take out the tras
Rebecca Leedham
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This book is about a boy with very bad habits that show how inconsiderate he is for the environment. He thinks nothing of his littering and non-recycling habits. One night, the boy goes to bed and travels to the future in his dreams. Instead of seeing robots, he experiences nightmares of a trash-filled home with no trees and a lot of pollution. These dreams bring him to reality and he wakes up and fixes the problems that he has created with his personal litter and mixed trash. This book would be ...more
Jakhara Norwood
Just A Dream is a story about a young boy who does not care much about the environment, but is taking through a series of events that may make him think twice. He is brought through these scenarios each time he lays down to go to sleep.

I love the way that the story is framed! It is using the concept of a dream to explore what can happen to the environment if littering continues. The message is clear, but is not necessary being fed to the reader. I just love how it all connects.

Book Connections:
Amy Layton
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
I honestly just considered whether to put this into the horror/psychological horror genre, considering that Walter's dreams are Too True and Too Close to Home.  I mean, his nightmares are pretty dang close to our reality.  And this was published in 1990.  Yikes. 

I know this picturebook essentially teaches children that they have to actively participate towards a clean, environmentally-sound future, but Chris Van Allsburg can't do all the work here!!  It's a wonderful message overall, and this bo
Becky B
A boy who litters, doesn't bother to recycle, and scoffs at the neighbor girl who got a tree for her birthday has startling dreams about the future.

Ok, so this comes off as a bit preachy, but at the same time sometimes you need to state things pretty blatantly for kids (and adults) to get the message. I felt like Van Allsburg and all his creative juices could have thought of a more clever and subtle way to get the message across, so that's why just 2 stars. It's still a good read for classes or
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edu-333
This is a fantastic illustrated book about a boy who observes the lack of care that people have for the environment in his town. He then dreams about what the future will be like. He learns that the world is worth working for.

The pictures and beautiful and the story is simple. The message is worthwhile. The story does a good job of conceptually asking people to think about what the consequences of our inaction.

I would have students consider how their actions in their own life will affect the fu
Kristin Fisher
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Many children will find this story very enjoyable. While sleeping, a young boy goes on a fun filled adventure to many different areas, as he wants to go to the future. When the future isn't what he thinks it is going to be, he wakes up and changes the way he acts. From this story, children can learn that it is important to take care of the Earth and you have to go about life the right way to have your future look the way you want it to. Children can add into the story telling by saying what they ...more
Krystal F
Apr 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Walter goes to sleep and travels to the future in his bed and discovers what a couple of poor choices he makes does to the environment. He jumps from place to place, each one a horrible scene of trash, no trees, or even smog. Eventually he stays in one place in the future, underneath a tree.

A book about becoming aware of the environment and the choices we make that could lead to a better environment or a worse one.

Category: Science Fiction (and Environmental)
Drew Graham
May 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kids
Walter scoffs at the neighbor girl's birthday present of a tree to plant in her yard, but after he has a troubling dream of the future world, will he change his tune?

I definitely remember reading this as a kid but I don't remember my head hurting from being hit over the head by it. I don't mind a message piece, but a little subtlety goes a loooong way (see: WALL-E). I guess they can't all be Jumanji.
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This text is a part of our Reading Fiction Unit. Students enjoy the story and can easily identify how and why our character changes for the beginning of the text to the end. We also used this text to discuss theme and students easily identified multiple themes. The illustrations are great and we had fun predicting what would be happening on the next page.
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
A boy, not too concerned with the present, longs to live in a technological paradise of the future. His dream comes true when he goes to sleep that night, but the future is a dystopian waste rather than the paradise he dreams. When he awakes, he makes better choices to prevent future disaster.
Tim Armstrong
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Van Allsburg's take on the environment and typically a brilliantly evoked tale with yet again a strong moral to take away.
Never meek, always subtle and always effectively executed - the man is a genius!
Aug 24, 2018 rated it liked it
This book reads like a heavy-handed cautionary tale, at least that is how it would have read about nineteen months ago when the EPA actually helped protect the environment. Now it reads like a very relevant cautionary tale, and that makes me very sad.
Lindsey Schultz
Sep 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-book
This was interesting book about a child who wasn't concerned about earth. He littered and didn't seem to care. His dream showed him what his future would be. Even though I wasn't overly excited about the story line, the illustrations were amazing.
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
Walter likes to think about a future full of fun technology, but doesn't go the extra mile to take care of his environment. One night Walter is transported in his dream to a bleak future in which the earth is forever changed by carelessness.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Great Kapok Tree
  • The Wump World
  • June 29, 1999
  • Re-Zoom
  • On Meadowview Street
  • Dove Isabeau
  • Henry Hikes to Fitchburg
  • Seen Art?
  • The EARTH Book
  • Heckedy Peg
  • The Wall
  • The Wolves Are Back
  • Brother Eagle, Sister Sky
  • The Table Where Rich People Sit
  • Uno's Garden
  • The Trouble With Dragons
  • Tibet: Through the Red Box
  • Weslandia
Chris was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 18, 1949, the second child of Doris Christiansen Van Allsburg and Richard Van Allsburg. His sister Karen was born in 1947.

Chris’s paternal grandfather, Peter, owned and operated a creamery, a place where milk was turned into butter, cream, cottage cheese, and ice cream. It was named East End Creamery and after they bottled the milk (and made the ot
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »