From the Publisher
"This is not a 'quiet' book. It is noisy with the most important kinds of struggle, because you and I face them every day: the quest to find our place in the world, to belong to a family and group of friends, to be loved." - Kenneth Oppel
"Pearson's gift is to always write straight from the inner well of childhood feeling." - Toronto Star
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The combination of her own desperate wishes and a dead writer's fantasy propel the nine-year-old heroine into a dream world--or does it? Ages 8-12. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Alexandria LaFaye
Telling the story of Theo, a young dreamer who lives her life through her favorite books, Pearson takes a new approach to the ghost story. Theo dreams of escaping her life of poverty and neglect while the wandering spirit of an under-appreciated children's author seeks out the story she can never write. These two dreamers cross paths and make Theo's dreams come true. With a sometimes overly sentimental view of reading, poverty, and the realm of possibilities, this book take a fresh approach to the ghost tale and provides a compelling view of one girl's desire for a better life. The plot twists are unique, the characters are often surprising, and the examination of seeking wish-fulfillment verses making a commitment to building life changes is compelling.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Reading and daydreaming protect nine-year-old Theo from the realities of her impoverished life. Her single mom Rae's series of low-paid jobs keep them moving in and out of dingy apartments and homeless shelters, with Theo constantly changing schools. Rae makes Theo dance for money on the sidewalks of Vancouver, often leaves her alone, doesn't feed, clothe, or bathe her properly, and is sometimes abusive. When Rae takes up with a new boyfriend who doesn't like children, Theo is forced to move in with an aunt she doesn't know. It is on the ferry boat ride from Vancouver to Victoria that Theo's dream life takes over. She suddenly becomes a member of the perfect family she's always wished for. Theo is completely accepted by the Kaldors at home and by the kids at school...until Theo fades out! It turns out that this experience is a blending of her fantasy and that of a ghost named Cecily, who was a writer in real life. This long book is a unique mixture of ghost story, fantasy, and problem novel that should appeal to avid young readers. Its special insights into a writer's imagination should also inspire young writers-to-be. 1999 (orig. 1996), Puffin Books/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, Ages 9 to 12, $13.99 and $4.99. Reviewer: Carol Raker CollinsChildren's Literature
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7Wishes can come true, temporarily at least. Nine-year-old Theo desperately wants to be out of her gray, loveless existence and into the middle of a large and happy family like the ones she reads about in her wonderful library books. Often neglected by her young and immature mother, she is still reluctant to leave their Vancouver apartment and go to live with her aunt in Victoria. On the ferry trip, Theo makes a wish on the new moon and is amazed when it comes true. She wakes up as part of the perfect family, with nurturing and always happy parents and four caring siblings. Now she doesn't have to dance for money on the street or worry that her mother doesn't want her. But of course, it is too good to be true, and the magic doesn't last. While her real life isn't perfect like when she was "awake and dreaming," things are changing for the better and Theo is learning to be happy. Pearson deftly weaves fantasy and reality together into a charming novel much like Sylvia Cassedy did in Behind the Attic Wall (HarperCollins, 1983). Even minor characters are well developed, and this story is intriguing from start to finish. A mysterious ghost is carefully woven into the plot and into the resolution, but the focus of the book remains on Theo's very real concerns and emotions. As readers cheer for the child's happiness, they may also learn from her determination.Leigh Ann Jones, Carroll Middle School, Southlake, TX
Theo, nine, has not had a gentle life. The joys of clean clothes, a warm bed, and enough to eat are elusive, and her too-young, borderline-abusive mother provides little emotional support or structure. Theo escapes via daydreams and voracious reading ("she remembered that the ugliest books in school libraries were often the best ones"). The heart of the book, set in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, is an awkwardly constructed fantasy sequence that places Theo in the center of a large and affectionate family, the Kaldors. When the dream ends, Theo finds the familyless idealized, with no answering memory of herand also finds the ghost of the writer, who once lived in the Kaldor house, and who has an explanation for Theo's experiences "awake and dreaming." While parts of the tale are clumsily drawn, Theo's longings are unmistakably clear, and the shaky shifts in point of view won't matter to readers, for this is a real page-turner.
Pearson (The Lights Go On Again, 1994, etc.) has some lovely notions about the relationship between dreams and reality, the value of friends and family (however flawed its members), and the acts of reading and writing as talismans of hope.