The Dream Bearer

The Dream Bearer

4.2 4
by Walter Dean Myers

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David Curry doesn't know what to make of his father, Reuben, whose violent out bursts and chilling nightmares torment his family. His older brother, Tyrone, says Reuben is crazy. But lately, even Tyrone isn't acting like himself.

Then David meets the mysterious Mr. Moses, who tells him that dreams might be the only things we have that are real. And it is Mr.


David Curry doesn't know what to make of his father, Reuben, whose violent out bursts and chilling nightmares torment his family. His older brother, Tyrone, says Reuben is crazy. But lately, even Tyrone isn't acting like himself.

Then David meets the mysterious Mr. Moses, who tells him that dreams might be the only things we have that are real. And it is Mr. Moses's gift of dreams that gives David a new way to see inside his father's troubled heart.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A 12-year-old boy living in Harlem meets a man who says he's more than 300 years old and that he is a dream bearer. According to PW, "Myers portrays a young man who, warts and all, emerges as a knowable and admirable hero." Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Twelve-year-old David Curry lives on 145th Street in Harlem. David's father suffers from an undisclosed mental illness that manifests itself in unpredictable, often violent behavior. David's outspoken mother lobbies to establish a community homeless shelter and tries to protect her family from the ravages of Harlem as best she can. David's older brother slowly slithers into the neighborhood drug crowd. David's best friend, Loren, is bi-racial, and his newest friend, Sessi, recently emigrated from Kenya. Into this mélange walks Mr. Moses, a homeless guy who says he is a 303-year-old dream bearer. Mr. Moses' mission is to pass his dreams on through generations, and he has chosen David as his current conduit. As the dream-telling unfolds, David becomes alternately enthralled, confused, and frightened; his internal conflicts spin within the external framework of his daily real-life struggles. David knows he is spiritually linked to Mr. Moses but does not quite grasp the meaning of this connection. However, he believes that the dreams are important and the key to his family's survival. Despite what might appear to be a trite assemblage of characters, Myers weaves their lives into a tapestry that ultimately makes sense and provides hope amid the myriad battles that accompany life in Harlem—or anywhere else, for that matter. Myers invites us to see what we can see when we close our eyes. Themes for classroom discussions can include: personal and community responsibility, father/son relationships, African culture, mentoring, the homeless, mental illness, and drug addiction. 2003, Amistad/HarperCollins, Ages 10 up.
—Barbara Sauer
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2003: It's summer on 145th Street in Harlem, and 12-year-old David spends his time hanging out with his good friends Loren and Sussi, a girl from Kenya. Life at home is stressful, because David's father, Reuben, is "nervous," as his mother calls it. But Reuben is more than nervous: he is angry and unstable, even violent at times, and David is often afraid of him. Meanwhile, David's 17-year-old brother, Tyrone, is feeling the pull of the streets. He's a WG—wanna-be gangster—and he may be doing drugs and also dealing them. The police come to the door; Tyrone vanishes for a few days, and then admits he owes some people money. David's mother works hard at holding the family together, while David tries to make sense of his life and the people around him: "the need to understand everything was creeping up on me." He meets an old man named Mr. Moses in the park, who calls himself a dream bearer and who gets David thinking. Mr. Moses tells David the dreams he carries around, dreams of slavery, lynching, and death, and David gradually comes to realize that understanding people's dreams helps you to understand them. When Mr. Moses suddenly becomes ill, Reuben helps to rescue him; when Reuben has a crisis of his own, David plays an important role, and he comes to a new understanding and appreciation of his father. This is a haunting, sad, and yet hopeful tale of one boy's struggle to cope with his father's mental illness, and Myers, author of Monster and many other outstanding books for YAs, makes David and his world come alive for the reader in deceptively simple yet poignant prose. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended forjunior high school students. 2003, HarperCollins, Trophy, 180p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Paula Rohrlick
Imagine a book about a twelve-year-old boy, David, and his best friend, Loren. Sometimes they fight, but mostly they just hang together, being there for each other through good and bad. Imagine a book about a family-worn-out, hardworking mom; a teenage son spending too much time out on the streets; a father struggling against mental illness; and David, the youngest who loves them all. Now imagine a book about a community, Harlem, and its fight for a safe, clean neighborhood that reflects the commitment and integrity of the people who have walked its streets for generations. Finally, imagine a book about African American people and their dreams-the sad, sad dreams of the past and current dreams of hope that preserve the dreams of the future. Roll all of these imaginings together for a sense of Myers's story. This incredible novel, written in easy, natural language suitable for the younger middle school crowd, tells many large and small stories, all through the eyes of young David. Readers learn how handsome Loren's doting white mother really feels about living in Harlem, for example, and how the neighbors react to David's friend Sessi and her family, who have just emigrated from Africa. They observe the dignity of homeless Mr. Moses, the dream bearer, who claims to be more than three hundred years old, and the undulating tension between David's parents, trying to redeem a marriage conflicted with internal and external catastrophes. This book comprises many stories, beautifully orchestrated with elegant simplicity and profound insight. Myers creates a real masterpiece with this one. VOYA Codes: 5Q 5P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read ityesterday; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2003, HarperCollins, 240p,
— Diane Masla
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Walter Dean Myers' novel (HarperCollins, 2003) follows a 12-year-old boy in Harlem as he copes with family problems. While playing basketball with a friend, David Curry encounters a seemingly ancient man, Moses Littlejohn, who claims to be a dream bearer-he carries human dreams and passes them on. David is not sure he believes him, but listens to the stories Moses tells anyway. While the dreams do not solve David's problems with his violent father and his brother's drug dealing, they do help him to make sense of what is going on. Myers' use of language and situations make the characters come alive. Francis James narrates with realistic sounding voices and intonations. Each character is given a distinct and authentic voice. While the characters are well developed and interesting, the many plot threads sometimes overwhelm listeners. Dream Bearer isn't as compelling as some of Myers' other novels, but his fans will still enjoy this title that deals with anger and forgiveness. This audiobook can augment library collections with numerous Walter Dean Myers fans.-Katherine Devine, Westminster Academy
Kirkus Reviews
A mysterious stranger is hanging around David Curry’s Harlem playground. Moses Littlejohn is an African-American man with white hair, a stubbly beard, baggy clothes, and a faraway look in his eyes that makes him look like the picture of the Ancient Mariner in David’s school textbook. Moses says he’s 303 years old and has been carrying dreams for hundreds of years, now looking for someone to pass them onto. David is not so sure about this, but he does feel there is something about this old man and his dreams that helps him make sense of his own life with a violent father who seems crazy, an older brother flirting with street life, and a mother trying to hold her family together. This quiet, subtle story works on a number of layers with several themes--dreams, visions, home, community, and manhood. Moses’s dreams offer no easy solutions to David’s problems, but they become part of him, add to his knowledge, strength, and understanding, and nudge him toward a renewed relationship with his father and an appreciation of the danger and the magic of Harlem. (Fiction. 10+)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
First HarperTrophy Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Dream Bearer, The AER

Chapter One

"So why are you building a house up here on the roof?"

"To show I can do it," Sessi said. "This is the way my ancestors in Kenya built their houses."

Loren and I watched as Sessi folded strips of dried palm leaves and wove them through the sticks she had made into a four-foot wall. She did look like she knew what she was doing.

"How many people can you get into one of these little houses?" Loren asked.

"This is just a model, silly," Sessi said. "If I were in my country, all of my family would help build the house and it would be ten times this big."

"They don't have to pay rent, right?" I asked.

"If you live on somebody else's lands, then you have to pay rent," Sessi said.

"If I was in your little country, I would probably be a king or something," Loren said. "At least the mayor."

Sessi, on her knees, turned her head sideways and looked up at Loren. "Tarzan told you that?""He didn't have to," Loren said. "I just know it."

"I'm thinking of going to Africa when I get old enough," I said. "Just to check it out."

"Me and David are American." Loren nudged me with his elbow. "But we're part African."

"Who are you? Ibo? Edo?" Sessi asked. "All you guys are is American. I am Kikuyu."

"Yo, David, when she finishes making her house, you want to come up here and tear it down?" Loren put one hand on the house and pushed it gently.

"That's what Americans do," Sessi said, turning back to her model house. "You tear things down."

"Nothing wrong with that," Loren said.

Sessi made a little noise with her throat and shook her head. That was thething with Sessi...sometimes she would make little noises that sounded almost like words or move her hands in a way that was almost like talking. She was pretty, with a smile that started with her mouth and spread across her face in a way that always made me smile when I saw it.

Loren was the same age as me, twelve, and lived in my building. Sessi lived in the building next to mine. When the weather wasn't too bad, we sometimes went over the rooftops to get to each other's houses. Sessi wasn't like most girls I knew...she never put anybody down or got into arguments. Maybe it was because she was African, I didn't know.

"We could use your model house for our clubhouse," I said to Sessi. "You know what a clubhouse is?"

"I've been in this country for four years and I'm only one year younger than you are, Mr. David Curry," Sessi said. When she stood up she was an inch taller than me even though she was younger. "Whatever you boys know, I know."

"Oh, yeah? Why did the moron throw an alarm clock out the window?" Loren asked.

"Don't ask me silly things," Sessi said, rolling her eyes in Loren's general direction. "Do I look like a silly person to you?"

"Because he wanted to see time fly!" Loren said. "Get it? He wanted to see time fly!"

"Loren, that is so stupid!" Sessi went back to building her model house.

"The only reason you're smart is because your mother makes you study and stuff," Loren said. "If me and David studied all the time, we'd be twice as smart as you. Ain't that right, David?"

"I don't know," I answered.

"I'd think we'd be twice as smart as anybody if we tried," Loren said.

"What do you think of us using it as a clubhouse?" I asked again.

"I'll have to ask my father," Sessi said. "I don't think he'll mind, but he'll have to be asked."

"When are you going to ask him?"

"When he gets home from work." Sessi smoothed the side of her house with the palm of her hand. "Maybe after supper."

"What's your dumb brother Kimi doing?" Loren asked.

"Reading to my mother," Sessi answered. "He's helping her with the citizenship test. She can read well, but it helps her to hear the words read aloud."

"You know you can't become a citizen without my permission," Loren said.

"Loren Hart, shut up!" Sessi spoke with finality.

"I don't know anybody with a real clubhouse," I said. "You think your father's going to say we can use it?"

"Tell him he'd better say yes or I might have to come to your house and deal with him!" Loren said.

"You're going to deal with my father?" Sessi held up her thumb and put it on the end of Loren's nose. "I don't think so!"

Loren gave her a look, but he didn't say anything and I knew he wasn't sure if he could beat Sessi or not. He had told me before that he thought Africans were tougher than they looked.

"I got to go home." Loren wiped his hands on the front of his jeans. "You want to come to my house and watch television?"

"I can't stay out too long," I said. "Mom's going to some kind of meeting, and she wants me home when she leaves."

"David's a good boy," Sessi said. "He listens to his parents."

"I think you want to marry him," Loren said. "If I go downstairs right now, I'll bet you'll be giving him a kiss before I get to the third floor."

"Child," Sessi said to Loren. "You're a mere child."

"I'll come over for a while," I said.

"Why don't you check with your mother first?" Sessi looked up at me. "Then if you go you'll have an easy mind."

Dream Bearer, The AER. Copyright © by Walter Myers. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Walter Dean Myers was the New York Times bestselling author of Monster, the winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award; a former National Ambassador for Young People's Literature; and an inaugural NYC Literary Honoree. Myers received every single major award in the field of children's literature. He was the author of two Newbery Honor Books and six Coretta Scott King Awardees. He was the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults, a three-time National Book Award Finalist, as well as the first-ever recipient of the Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

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The Dream Bearer 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I think the book was okay. I really think it should have more detail, but it did have a good conflict and solution. Like when Tyrone acted like someone David didn't know. David felt confused until he met a man that was very suspecious like he was trying to hide something. That's what I Thought about the book.