Reviews for Dreamer

Booklist Reviews 2010 February #1
*Starred Review* Respinning the childhood of the widely beloved poet Pablo Neruda, Ryan and Sís collaborate to create a stirring, fictionalized portrait of a timid boy's flowering artistry. Young Neftalí Reyes (Neruda's real name) spends most of his time either dreamily pondering the world or cowering from his domineering father, who will brook no such idleness from his son. In early scenes, when the boy wanders rapt in a forest or spends a formative summer by the seashore, Ryan loads the narrative with vivid sensory details. And although it isn't quite poetry, it eloquently evokes the sensation of experiencing the world as someone who savors the rhythms of words and gets lost in the intricate surprises of nature. The neat squares of Sís' meticulously stippled illustrations, richly symbolic in their own right, complement and deepen the lyrical quality of the book. As Neftalí grows into a teen, he becomes increasingly aware of the plight of the indigenous Mapuche in his Chilean homeland, and Ryan does a remarkable job of integrating these themes of social injustice, neither overwhelming nor becoming secondary to Neftalí's story. This book has all the feel of a classic, elegant and measured, but deeply rewarding and eminently readable. Ryan includes a small collection of Neruda's poetry and a thoughtful endnote that delves into how she found the seeds for the story and sketches Neruda's subsequent life and legacy. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
Perfect is the union that resulted in this novel: the subject, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904 73); author Ryan who re-creates Neruda's spirit and sensibility; and the Czech-born illustrator Sms whose escape from oppression so hauntingly resembles Neruda's struggle for creative freedom. Sms's introspective, emotion-charged drawings spring naturally from this lyrical account of a difficult childhood. An author's note and several Neruda poems are appended. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #2
As Neftali Reyes enters university, his wrathful father forbids wasting time on his useless "hobby": writing. So he fashions a pseudonym: "Pablo" from Paolo, in an Italian poem; "Neruda" after a Czech writer. The name fits like a suit: "The lapels were the width that he liked. The color was soft enough not to offend, but bright enough to be remembered. The name was not only a perfect solution, it was a perfect fit." Perfect indeed, like the union that resulted in this novel: the subject, poet Pablo Neruda (1904-73), the Chilean Nobel Prize winner; Ryan, the author who re-creates Neruda's spirit and sensibility; and Sis, the Czech-born illustrator whose escape from oppression (see The Wall, rev. 9/07) so hauntingly resembles Neruda's struggle for creative freedom. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 March #2
Ryan's fictional evocation of the boy who would become Pablo Neruda is rich, resonant and enchanting. Simple adventures reveal young Neftalí's painful shyness and spirited determination, his stepmother's love and his siblings' affection and his longing for connection with his formidable, disapproving father. The narrative captures as well rain falling in Temuco, the Chilean town where he was raised, and his first encounters with the forest and the ocean. Childhood moments, gracefully re-created, offer a glimpse of a poet-to-be who treasures stories hidden in objects and who recognizes the delicate mutability of the visible world, while the roots of Neruda's political beliefs are implied in the boy's encounters with struggles for social justice around him. Lines from a poem by Ryan along with Sís's art emphasize scenes and introduce chapters, perfectly conveying the young hero's dreamy questioning. The illustrator's trademark drawings deliver a feeling of boundless thought and imagination, suggesting, with whimsy and warmth, Neftalí's continual transformation of the everyday world into something transcendent. A brief selection of Neruda's poems (in translation), a bibliography and an author's note enrich an inviting and already splendid, beautifully presented work. (Historical fiction. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 March #3

Ryan's (Paint the Wind) wandering and imaginative prose and Ss's (The Wall) quietly haunting art fuse in this fictionalized account of Pablo Neruda's upbringing in the small town of Temuco, Chile. Precocious, terribly shy, and insightful, Neruda (known then by his birth name, Neftal Reyes) is curious about all facets of life, particularly the wonders of nature. "He stood, captivated, feeling small and insignificant, and at the same time as if he belonged to something much grander," writes Ryan when Neftal first sees the ocean. His role model is his uncle Orlando, who owns the local newspaper, but his domineering father has no patience for the boy's daydreaming and love of reading and writing, which ultimately provokes Neftal's passion for finding his own voice. Printed in green ink (as is the text), Ss's stippled illustrations provide surreal visual teasers for each chapter. Larger images pair with poetic questions ("Is fire born of words? Or are words born of fire?") that echo Neruda's The Book of Questions. Stressing "the importance of following dreams and staying determined," the book is an immaculately crafted and inspiring piece of magical realism. Ages 9-14. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 April

Gr 4-9--Readers enter the creative, sensitive mind of Pablo Neruda, the Nobel Prize-winning poet, in this beautifully written fictional biography. Ryan artfully meshes factual details with an absorbing story of a shy Chilean boy whose spirit develops and thrives despite his father's relentless negativity. Neruda, who was born Neftali Reyes, sees, hears, and feels poetry all around him from an early age. Luckily he finds understanding and encouragement from his stepmother and his uncle, whose humanitarian and liberal attitudes toward nature and the rights of the indigenous Mapuche people greatly influence his developing opinions. In early adulthood, Reyes starts using the pseudonym by which he becomes known, taking his last name from that of a famous Czechoslovakian poet. Ryan suggests that this was how he hid his activities from his father. Her poetic prose style totally dovetails with the subject. Interspersed with the text are poems that mimic Neruda's style and push readers to think imaginatively and visually. Ss's whimsical pen-and-ink pointillist illustrations enliven the presentation. Each chapter is preceded by three small drawings that hint at something to come. The perfect marriage of text and art offers an excellent introduction to one of the world's most famous poets. An appended author's note gives further insight into Neruda's beliefs and accomplishments. In addition there are excerpts from several of his poems and odes. This unusual selection would be a fine companion to Deborah Kogan Ray's To Go Singing Through the World (Farrar, 2006).--Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ

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VOYA Reviews 2010 June
Neftali Reyes is indeed a dreamer, a young boy easily distracted by an old discarded boot, a wayward umbrella, an oddly shaped stone, or even a pinecone. Items like these he proudly displays, while other treasures containing words he has written on small scraps of paper remain hidden away--words that even a stuttering boy finds beautiful and manageable, especially when applied to stories or poetry. Neftali's father has no tolerance for such idle thought and considers his writing a meaningless distraction. He demands his son knuckle down and become something sensible, like a businessman, doctor, or dentist. Over time, Neftali matures from a somewhat frail boy into a thin but confident young man and begins to question and resent the limited nature of his father's belief system. Ultimately, and in an effort to remain true to his own convictions, Neftali develops a few ideas of his own Fictionally based on the childhood of Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), this book artfully weaves known facts into a tale that depicts the early years of this internationally renowned poet. Infused and alive with nature, drama, mysticism, and grace, this story easily captures the imagination that transports the reader in a way many books aspire to but few attain. Each notable in their own right, the award-winning dream-team collaboration of Munoz-Ryan and Sis has resulted in a marvelous montage of story telling, poetry, and illustration. The Dreamer should readily appeal to both genders, as well as young and old alike.--Judith Brink-Drescher 5Q 4P M J Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.