K-Gr 1-A story that is less logical than psychological. Readers are skipped like a stone across a quick series of events in the day of an unnamed boy. The unifying factor is the constant reminder that there are uncontrollable, scary things out there (trains, heights, sharks). While the child sleeps, a squall arises; italics and shimmering scenes from his subconscious mind alert readers to the second part of the book-his dream. All the things he was taught to fear, and more, rise to confront him and be conquered, also in rapid succession. It's a sophisticated and elemental notion and is only partially successful. The language is too choppy to take passengers from thought to thought. The sentences have no grace, no poetry, and no fun. But McPhail is known mainly for his artwork, and this story really shows his astonishing range of talent. One page looks like an Asian landscape, another like a Totem pole. Yet they're all watercolor and ink, and all unmistakably McPhail. Some pictures might be a little unsettling, and the prose is certainly bumpy. But there's a lot to look at here.-Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A young boy is having a great day fishing, going to the beach and to a carnival, but the elders of the family are quick to issue warnings: "Not too close," "Stay out of the caves," "Hold on tight." Once asleep that night, though, there is adventure afoot, and no overprotective grownups to throw a wrench into the works as he plays hero, ". . . and when the bed landed, it was transformed into a world of mountains and valleys, with a river that spilled into a waterfall and a vast green sea." McPhail's dreamscapes pull the neat trick of being shadowy and lustrous at the same time, and the spidery pen work populates the illustrations with things that go bump in the night. This sense of lurking danger is more often suggestive than specific, and it's an edgy pleasure to explore the art while following the boy's exciting progress. It is equally enjoyable to see how the boy's waking life has been appropriated by the dreams. These are the dreams that a young boy dreams of dreaming. (Picture book. 4-8)