The Daydreamer

The Daydreamer

4.7 15
by Ian McEwan, Anthony Browne
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

From the inexhaustible imagination of Ian McEwan—a master of contemporary fiction and author of the Booker Prize-winning national bestseller Amsterdam—an enchanting work of fiction that appeals equally to children and adults.

First published in England as a children's book, The Daydreamer marks a delightful foray by one of our greatest

See more details below

Overview

From the inexhaustible imagination of Ian McEwan—a master of contemporary fiction and author of the Booker Prize-winning national bestseller Amsterdam—an enchanting work of fiction that appeals equally to children and adults.

First published in England as a children's book, The Daydreamer marks a delightful foray by one of our greatest novelists into a new fictional domain. In these seven exquisitely interlinked episodes, the grown-up protagonist Peter Fortune reveals the secret journeys, metamorphoses, and adventures of his childhood. Living somewhere between dream and reality, Peter experiences fantastical transformations: he swaps bodies with the wise old family cat; exchanges existences with a cranky infant; encounters a very bad doll who has come to life and is out for revenge; and rummages through a kitchen drawer filled with useless objects to discover some not-so-useless cream that actually makes people vanish. Finally, he wakes up as an eleven-year-old inside a grown-up body and embarks on the truly fantastic adventure of falling in love. Moving, dreamlike, and extraordinary, The Daydreamer marks yet another imaginative departure for Ian McEwan, and one that adds new breadth to his body of work.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A shivery, prickly joy".  —The Globe and Mail

"A classic." —The Financial Post

"Mr. McEwan at his best." —The New York Times Book Review

Publishers Weekly
Most grownups think that 10-year-old Peter Fortune is a difficult child because he is so quiet, but through his daydreams he learns to see the world from numerous points of view. In a starred review, PW said, "McEwan's vivid and poetic writing reveals a profound understanding of childhood." Ages 8-up. (Dec.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Most grown-ups think Peter Fortune is a difficult child because he is so quiet: they ``knew that something was going on inside that head, but they couldn't hear it or see it or feel it. They couldn't tell Peter to stop it, because they didn't know what it was he was doing in there.'' Actually, he is involved in one of his great adventures: exchanging bodies with his ancient pet cat, battling a troop of dolls come to life, making his parents disappear with a vanishing cream or discovering what it is like to be an adult falling in love. Through his daydreams, Peter learns to see the world from numerous points of view. He is the only boy at school, for example, who can recognize the weaknesses of a bully and feel compassion for him. In his first book for children, McEwan ( The Comfort of Strangers ; The Child in Time ) dextrously presents a series of strange and wonderful metamorphoses. His vivid and poetic writing, celebrating the creative abilities of a gifted 10-year-old, reveals a profound understanding of childhood. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Peter Fortune, 10, is a dreamer, and not everyone understands that. He has the usual problems with teachers who think he can't do his schoolwork when he's really just been too busy dreaming up ways to save the world. However, the focus of this book is not on the boy's troubles but rather on his fabulous daydreams. Each of the seven stories following the introduction is a separate adventure, probably occurring mostly in Peter's imagination but including an unusual twist to link it to a real situation. The mood is similar to Edward Eager's Half-Magic (Harcourt, 1954). Even though the magic is presented as real in that book and as imagination here, the connections to reality leave readers feeling that something out of the ordinary has happened, even if it is not stated as such. Peter's adventures include trading bodies with his cat, taming a bully, catching a burglar, and even waking up in the dreaded world of grown-ups, and young readers should have no trouble empathizing with his escapades. Less able readers may find the descriptive writing style a real challenge, but would enjoy hearing the stories read aloud. Brown's illustrations, one per chapter, capture the eeriness of the selections. A delightful blend of serious whimsy and hilarious gravity.-Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385498050
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/28/2000
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
258,592
Product dimensions:
5.13(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.41(d)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

Read an Excerpt

As each chapter of The Daydreamer was completed, I read it aloud to my children.  The arrangement was simple.  They got the latest installment of what we called the 'Peter stories', and I took away some useful editorial content.  This pleasant, almost ritualistic exchange in turn affected the writing itself, in that I became more than usually attentive to the sound of an adult voice speaking each sentence.  This adult was not, or not simply, me.  Alone in my study, I read aloud passages to an imaginary child (not quite, or not only, one of mine) on behalf of this imaginary adult.  Ear and tongue, I wanted to please them both.

The child's needs I thought I knew instinctively: a good tale above all, a sympathetic hero, villains yes, but not all the time because they are too simplifying, clarity in openings, twists in the middle, and satisfying outcomes that were not always happy.  For the adult I felt little more than vague sympathy.  We all love the idea of bedtime stories — the fresh minted breath, the wide and trustful eyes, the hot water bottle baking down among the clean linen, the sleepy glowing covenant — and who would not have the scene carved upon his headstone?  But do adults really like children's literature?  I've always thought the entusiasm was a little overstated, even desperate.  'Swallows and Amazons? Beatrix Potter? Marvellous books!'  Do we really mean it, do we really still enjoy them, or are we speaking up for, and keeping the lines open to, our lost, nearly forgotten selves?  When exactly did you last curl up alone with The Swiss Family Robinson?

What we like about children's books is our children's pleasure in them, and this is less to do with literature and more to do with love.  Early on in writing and reading aloud The Daydreamer I began to think it might be better to forget about our mighty tradition of children's literature and to write a book for adults about a child in a language that children could understand.  In the century of Hemingway and Calvino simple prose need not deter the sophisticated reader.  I hoped the subject matter — the imagination itself — was one in which anyone who picks up a book has a stake.  Similarly, transformation has been a theme, almost an obsession, in all literatures.  The Daydreamer was published in an illustrated edition for children in Britain and the United States, and in a more sober adult form in various other countries.  There was once a tradition by which authors dedicate their books to the fates, rather in the manner of a parent sending a child out into the world. 'Goe littel booke...'  this one may well settle down after all for a quiet life in a corner of a children's library, or die in oblivion, but for the moment I'm still hoping it might give some pleasure all round.

Ian McEwan
1995

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >