Mock Newbery 2023 discussion

Book of the Month 2011 > December Read - The Dreamer

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message 1: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) | 587 comments Mod
Is The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan "Distinguished?" Is it a possible Newbery winner?

message 2: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (kathleena) | 34 comments I thought The Dreamer was a very interesting book. Having read some of Pablo Neruda's poetry, I was especially taken with the story. Having said that I found it difficult to get into. Its poetic writing was wonderful to read, however, and I think it will have appeal for a special reader, not everyone. It could be a Newbery winner without wide appeal as we have seen over the past few years with the exception perhaps of the most recent When You Reach Me.

message 3: by Pam (new)

Pam | 22 comments Kathleen wrote: "I thought The Dreamer was a very interesting book. Having read some of Pablo Neruda's poetry, I was especially taken with the story. Having said that I found it difficult to get into. Its poetic..."

The Dreamer hasn't flown off the shelf with the children, so I was skeptical before I started. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that it is a great way to introduce magical realism to students. The fictional story inspired by the real-life story of poet Pablo Neruda, and it is accessible to children from early elementary through middle school. The themes are complicated yet Ryan presents them in a way that all children can understand and interpret them on a level that is age appropriate. Neftali, the main character, finds magic, color, and words everywhere. He is incapable of stopping himself despite his domineering father that he so desperately wants to please and always disappoints because he doesn't share the same dreams. The story is the triumph of spirit over will of others and shows how one boy didn't allow others to label him. An added bonus with this book is that Peter Sis illustrated it and did a fantastic job. After reading it I think it is well suited as a school book club or classroom read.

message 4: by Christina (new)

Christina | 10 comments The Dreamer is my favorite of the books we have read this year. I know that some Goodreads readers have found this fictionalized account of the childhood of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda to be overly sentimental and syrupy, but the blend of poetry and inspirational story moved me. I'm not sure if my sixth graders will enjoy this leisurely-paced "coming of age" story, but I will be recommending it to a few kids this week to see what they think. As of now, this book would have my vote for the 2010 Newbery.

message 5: by Laurie (new)

Laurie Chudzinski | 1 comments Good afternoon!
Just finished reading "The Dreamer" and enjoyed it very much. That said, I have to agree with Pam that this is a book that is well suited to the classroom- as I think that is the only way most kids will ever find their way into the pages of this story. (Sniff Sniff, so sad) I do believe many kids would enjoy this story if used as a read aloud in class- plus there is a ton of possibilities for extension activities that could be used with the book, such as Neruda's poetry, the geography, Peter Sis artwork, journalism, not to mention all the interesting discussion points- this book begs to be delved into. In the meantime, it is not circulating well at our library, could be due in part to the cover art, which I don't believe inspires kids interest, but also, I'm sure because there is such a small group of readers that would pick this up for a pleasure read. Hmmmm, sounds like the perfect selection for a Newbery, as so often this is the type of book that is in the running for a Newbery- books for kids that adults love. Of all the Newbery criteria, one area I find suits this book is "individually distinct," it is certainly distinct. Perhaps too distinct..... Yes, I enjoyed the book- I will recommend to certain readers, but as for the Newbery-I'm still loving "One Crazy Summer," and "Countdown," a tad more.

message 6: by David (new)

David | 26 comments I really liked The Dreamer a lot. It's a beautifully designed book with the imaginative art of Peter Sis. Ryan's text is lyrical and evocative as she writes about the imagined childhood of Neftali Reyes, who grows up to become poet Pablo Neruda. The Dreamer is a wonder-filled book exploring imagination, families, commitment and dreams. Sure to win many awards, recommended for those who love poetry and who are dreamers themselves.

On the negative side, the father is portrayed rather one dimensionally with few redeeming qualities, rivaling the parents in Meggy Swann, and Cecile in One Crazy Summer for worst fictional parent in 2010 books! I still like The Dreamer and could see it winning the Newbery or as a Honor book. My new favorite, though, is A Conspiracy of Kings, with One Crazy Summer & Countdown as strong contenders.

message 7: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 3 comments Hate to be a naysayer, but while I enjoyed the first 40 pages of the Dreamer, I found the book to be claustrophobic and tiresome. To me it was one dimensional and relentlessly didactic. I felt overly controlled by the text. I was initially charmed by the character of the boy. I especially loved his sheep. Much of the story lacked the charm of the sheep's specificity and read flat and predictable. (Good swan, bad hunter.)Once it began to dawn on me that it was a fictionalized biography of Neruda I began to feel trapped in a dreamy hagiography.

message 8: by Leigh (new)

Leigh (leighb) I loved the book. The swan parts were very sad, the father was totally beleivable and the whole story was engrossing. But I am an adult and kids might not enjoy the book as much as I did.

message 9: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) | 587 comments Mod
I thought The Dreamer was lovely. I loved the simple and good messages within the story. I would have liked to learn more about the father. Like David mentioned, we only saw one side of him and it would have been nice to learn more about why he was the way he was.

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