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 Harlemor 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.
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 WGwanna-be gangsterand 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: JRecommended forjunior high school students. 2003, HarperCollins, Trophy, 180p., Ages 12 to 15.
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,
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
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+)