Trees are hanging from the sky, their roots are snakes, or sometimes rivers, their leaves are fish. Are those roots entwined in clouds or stars? Our hero’s mother warned him not to eat before going to bed and not to sleep with his arms crossed on his chest or he will have nightmares. But he doesn’t mind because he loves these trees. Even so, it’s a good thing his bed is close to the ground because he is a little bit scared of heights and, when...
Trees are hanging from the sky, their roots are snakes, or sometimes rivers, their leaves are fish. Are those roots entwined in clouds or stars?
Our hero’s mother warned him not to eat before going to bed and not to sleep with his arms crossed on his chest or he will have nightmares. But he doesn’t mind because he loves these trees. Even so, it’s a good thing his bed is close to the ground because he is a little bit scared of heights and, when his dream knocks him out of bed, he doesn’t have far to fall.
Jorge Argueta’s unique use of language, images and dreams, have garnered him wide recognition and many awards.
El Salvadoran-born Argueta follows up his memoir of his childhood immigration northward, A Movie in My Pillow, with this lyrical yet confusing mediation on a dream. "I see trees hanging from the sky," a boy narrates from his bed, reaching toward the green leaves dangling above. This image, somewhat grounded, takes a fantasy flight with the next spread: "Their roots are snakes that in the day wind around the clouds so as not to fall." Yockteng (Messengers of Rain/ Mandaderos de la lluvia) gamely conveys these dreamy happenings with pink striped and polka-dotted snakes, but his representational style generally under-powers the surreal text. For example, in one incongruous scene, the boy proclaims his love for his dreams while a huge, fanged snake bears down on him. Most of the illustrations with their pencil outlines and watercolor wash offer a sunny pleasant quality that offsets any menacing forces. The rather abrupt conclusion offers another possible interpretation: "It's true/ I'm scared of heights./ That's why my bed/ is nice and low./ If my dreams make me fall/ it won't hurt so much/ when I hit the ground." Here the dreams seem to take on the meaning of aspirations. As evocative as the verbal and visual imagery may be, the book does not hold to an internal logic and may escape the understanding of most youngsters. Ages 3-6. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
When the young protagonist eats before going to bed and sleeps with his hands on his chest, he suffers from the nightmares his mother warned him about. Trees hang upside down from the sky. Sometimes the roots are snakes, the branches are rivers, and the leaves are fish— "crazy children who fly and play among the branches." At night the snakeroots wrap around the stars to keep the trees airborne. In the end, however, the nightmares aren't really all that scary, and the boy decides he loves the streams, the snakes, and the fish after all. Even his real fear of heights is resolved by his bed being "nice and low" to the floor so that if he falls in his dreams, he will not get hurt. Salvadoran poet Jorge Argueta, who won the Americas Award for Children's Literature in 2001, weaves a dreamy tale of magic realism that is matched by the soft, dreamy illustrations. 2003, Groundwood Books, Canada,
—Valerie O. Patterson
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-This free-verse poem follows the path of David Wiesner's Free Fall (Lothrop, 1988), wherein a young boy's dreams feature odd formations of unusual items visible from his room. The scraggly redhead delights in the ever-morphing trees whose roots become striped or polka-dotted snakes, branches are rivers, and leaves change into fish. The imaginative scenes range from trees towing spaceships to a life-sized Lego boat. Not all of the dream elements appear in the child's basement room on the final page, where the boy has fallen out of bed to loll like a rag doll. Yockteng's soft colors and simple lines ably soothe or build tension as required. Some scenes will be too frightening for the preschool set, but older children may find this an inspiration for their own artistic creations based on dreams.-Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.