The Dreamer

The Dreamer


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780439269988
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 03/01/2012
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 44,143
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Pam Muñoz Ryan is the recipient of the NEA's Human and Civil Rights Award and the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award for multicultural literature. She has written more than thirty books which have garnered, among countless accolades, the Pura Belpré Medal, the Jane Addams Award, and the Schneider Family Award. She lives near San Diego. You can visit her at

Peter Sis is an internationally acclaimed illustrator, author, and filmmaker with more than twenty books to his credit. His picture book THE WALL: GROWING UP BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN was a 2007 Caldecott Honor Book, and STARRY MESSENGER: GALILEO GALILEI and TIBET THROUGH THE RED BOX were Caldecott Honor Books. Peter Sis lives in the New York City area. You can visit him at

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Dreamer 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
LauraFabiani More than 1 year ago
I have just discovered a talented author-Pam Munoz Ryan. Her simple yet powerful way of conveying the story about Neftalí, a young uncommon boy who sees the world in a unique and magical way, touched me deeply. Based on the biography of Pablo Neruda, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, this book is inspiring. I thoroughly enjoyed Ryan's beautiful poetic writing that stirred my imagination to the point where I was soaring with Neftalí in the blue sky, running with him in the lush Chilean forest, feeling the mist of the tangy seawater on my face, and smelling the earthy scent of the outdoors after a summer rainfall. Neftalí, a child who is a poet and humanitarian at heart, gentle and kind, but sickly thin and shy has to suffer the cruel ridicule of his authoritarian father who wants to break his soft spirit and make a strong man out of him. Fortunately, he has a loving stepmother and an Uncle who unwittingly feeds his eager soul, and he grows to become a determined influential writer with no ill will toward his father. I loved this character. He reminded me in so many ways of my own son. His strength of character and determination to nurture his love for words and to use his gift for the good of mankind is inspirational. Ryan ends each chapter with a thought-provoking question such as, What wisdom does the eagle whisper to those who are learning to fly? These string of words left so innocently on a page with a black and white illustration reflected what the chapter itself conveyed and always left me thinking hard. My only regret is that I did not read this book together with my 9 year-old daughter to get her impressions and to share with her this touching and stirring tale.
lauren_21 More than 1 year ago
Like most books this author writes, pulls the reader into the story. You can feel how the main character, Neftali Reyes, reacts when his abusive father speaks towards him, or says he should stop day dreaming and think about real jobs for his future. Neftali is a talented writer, but is unable to pursue his dreams, or is he? Read this very realistic novel and find out if his father allows him to dream.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Neftali Reyes is quite the dreamer. He is easily distracted by old boots, unusual umbrellas, or odd-shaped objects. With a stutter that sometimes gets in the way of expressing himself verbally, Neftali starts writing. His father wants him to get his head out of the clouds and become something sensible, like a doctor, a dentist, or a lawyer. Can Neftali find a way to get his father to accept him for who he is? Will he hold true to what he holds dear? A touching, quick fictionalized biography based on the childhood of Pablo Neruda (born Neftali Reyes). The characters seem believable, and the story is inspirational and does a great job of helping readers relate to Neftali, who grew up to be a Nobel Prize-winning poet. Those who like historical fiction, biographies, and stories about writers' childhoods will enjoy reading THE DREAMER.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Neftali is scorned by his overbearing father for his imagination and his daydreaming. Key episodes in his childhood and teen years lead up to his eventual break from his father's oppression as he heads off to study poetry in college.This irritated me the same way as Anne of Green Gables - child me was always frustrated that these imaginative characters seemed to have much better dream lives than I did. I also found the jumps forward in time disconcerting. But from the summer at the beach, I was rooting for Neftali, no matter how much I wanted to shake some sense into him sometimes.I came at this book without knowing anything about it, and so it was some time before I realised it was based on a real person. I knew almost nothing about Pablo Neruda. I also didn't know that Peter Sis was involved, so I listened to the audiobook - I assume I missed some splendid illustrations. I did really enjoy Tony Chiroldes' accent - especially when he read the poetry.I'd give this to tweens interested in poetry, as it is a great jumping off point into the real politics and poetry associated with Pablo Neruda. Also a nice companion to stories about horrible fathers, especially when you need a cheerful ending. Actually, I'd give it to Anne of Green Gables fans to see if it captures the feel of a writer's imagination.
cmesa1 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Pam munoz does a fabolous job to take the reader onto the Life Of Neftali Reyes now known as Pablo Neruda one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. The winner of the Nobel prize. What I like the most of this book is that it reflects how some many of our children are and sometimes that do not cultivate their againts because they are afraid or they might believe what adults with tell him. In Neftali's case he did not believe the things that his mean father will say to him. He will keep dreaming . He always found beauty and wonder in everything colors smells textures. This to me is magic to be Elbe to be connected with the wonderful things tht sourounds us and transmit that to words. That is what Neftali did . He as a great example for all of us to keep dreaming and the bigger the dream the better.
copad2thing on LibraryThing 26 days ago
In this novel Neftali hears the call of a mysterious voice. Even when the neighborhood children taunt him, and when his harsh, authoritarian father ridicules him, and when he doubts himself. He knows he cannot ignore the call.
EuronerdLibrarian on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Slow, especially for a children's book, not particularly captivating, don't see the child appeal at all, but a nice story with nice illustrations.
esquetee on LibraryThing 26 days ago
It took me two false starts to finally get into this book. It's dressed up as a sort of children's story, but it needs to be about half as many words and twice as many illustrations, in my mind. The book is a sort of retelling of Pablo Neruda's childhood and adolescence, using some anecdotes from Neruda's own letters and interviews, with some fiction thrown in. But it takes way too long to get where it's going. There were some beautiful snippets of Neruda's poetry scattered here and there but the book didn't feel like it held together very well. I think only die-hard fans of Neruda's poetry will appreciate it and everyone one else will be bored.
kimby365 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Maybe my craziness shows when I say this book seemed like it would be nearly impossible to do well, but I am going to be completely honest. The idea of a fictionalized biography sounds like just about the worst type of book in history. It is hard to make an interesting story that can basically be described like this: "He wanted to be a writer, so after long years of torment and disapproval, he did." (I know that book after book after book follows that same pattern, but work with me here.) And to reduce the great Pablo Neruda to formula like that? Sacrilege, some would say. Fear not, those with a similar mindset: "The Dreamer" is an amazing book.How amazing, you ask? Well, in my review of "Mockingbird" I said I would most likely not be able to find a book that would affect me more strongly and touch me right down to the very core of my emotional being. If "The Dreamer" doesn't top it, it at least matches "Mockingbird" for me. This is, and will remain, without a doubt one of the best books of 2010.This is a book lover's book, through and through. Though I am one of those unfortunate souls who never encountered a book by Pam Munoz Ryan before this one came along, I have no reason to doubt the many, many laudatory things said about it. When I read this book, I was THERE, in that world. Everything was brighter and more acutely observed that I may have noticed in the real world, in real nature. That, my friend, is the sign of a good writer.Also a sign of a good writer: characters that, for better or worse, are distinctive and memorable. What young, book-loving, daydreaming, sensitive child (or teen, or adult) wouldn't be able to relate to young Neftali, even on a basic level? This is a kid who the reader will undoubtedly be rooting for from the very beginning, and not just because his home life is just shy of torture more often than not. The character of the father, a horribly strict and insensitive man, is ferocious and terrifyingly real, if portrayed as one-dimensionally evil at first. I am forever grateful that my parents, whatever their faults, were never any less than totally supporting of my goals in life, and this book cements that idea in my mind. As for the other characters, they're definitely likable and real and all, but the only memorable presence aside from Neftali and the Father, is Uncle Orlando. It is unsurprising that he fueled the young future poet's goal to use words in a way that would make people listen.It is hard to think of an immediate flaw in this book, which I suppose is a good thing but does not suit me for this review. Frankly, the only problem that I can think of is that it may be TOO much of a book lover's book for everyone. If your love of the written word does not rival that of Neftali, you may not be as enamored of it as I was. Still, a book like this one should probably have that as its flaw; Pam Munoz is clearly in love with the written word and it shows on every page. This is, quite simply, an outstanding work of literary art, and it deserves to be read and reread by young and old for many years to come.(Note: I didn't mention the illustrations, by Peter Sis, and I am aware of that. I didn't think I could write a whole big chunk about them, and I think that the words here are more important than the drawings. Regardless, they are lovely, as expected from the master illustrator, and they definitely add something to the book.)
joririchardson on LibraryThing 26 days ago
A book-related website that I barely ever check sent me some spam about how I could win a free book if I filled out a survey. I doubted that there were any books, and if there were, of course I wouldn't win one, but for some reason, in my boredom I filled out the survey anyways.Months passed, and I got a mysterious package in the mail. It was from the website, saying congratulations, you've won a book!It seemed to be a children's book, and even had drawings in it. Not the type of book I'd ever read, but I decided to read it anyways, in time to trade it in to the bookstore I would be visiting on the weekend."The Dreamer," however, is not going anywhere. It is staying firmly on my shelves for all time.At once, this book catches the reader almost alarmingly with its gorgeous prose, its simplistic storytelling, its innocent but perceptively childlike analogies, and lyric beauty.Though normally I cannot connect with young children as main characters, I related to Neftali, and will not be forgetting him anytime soon.His struggles with his family, his love of stories both in his head and on paper, and his outlook on life - hopeful, but also depressingly realistic - were very endearing. The beauty of this book is a tribute to the poet that our main character would become, the famous Pablo Neruda. Pam Munoz Ryan and is an author who is known to me, and I have read two of her other books (Esperanza Rising and Riding Freedom). Both were good, especially since I read them when I was younger, but she has truly outdone herself here. I am very much looking forward to what she writes next, because this is unquestionably her masterpiece. You really just must read this wonderful story to appreciate it. It really is beautiful, and I found myself jotting down a few little phrases here and there, just because they deserve to remembered. Such as, Neftali wonders about "the color of a minute," hears "the river breathing," watches the sea "bowing" to him and listening to its "thunderous applause," and calls his writing "the remnants of his soul." All of those, especially the last one, were very striking. I most likely would have remembered them without even making a note of them.I cannot leave out Peter Sis - the illustrator. His drawings are simple, and very childlike. They suit the book perfectly. Ones that stuck out for me were:- An ocean with islands contained in a spoon- A bird made of words rising out of a fire- A tiny sprout growing from a tree trunk that has been freshly cutThis is just a beautiful book that I would recommend to anyone of any age.
skstiles612 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
This is the story of Neftali Reyes Known to the world as thepoet Pablo Neruda. As a young boy, Neftali's mind wandered and he questioned everything around him. His domineering father considered him "absentminded", "dim-witted", and "idiot" He dictated what he expected his sons to become. Somehow Neftali finds his own way. As he grows older he takes on, through his writing the cause of the Mapuche people. The Indigenous people of Chile. The words flow throughout this book creating an image in the mind that is enhanced by the drawings by Pepter Sis. This is a book that you not only read, you feel it.
twonickels on LibraryThing 26 days ago
When you see The Dreamer sitting on a shelf, you will want to pick it up and hold it in your hands. From the shimmering cover that invites you into the universe of Neftalí¿s head, to the thick paper that feels perfect under your fingers, to the calm green color of the ink, to the tiny illustration of an acorn that greets you on the title page, this is a book full of small treasures. In a story that is about taking delight in the smallest details, kudos to the designers who made the physical object of this book reflect the subject matter so beautifully.Neftalí¿s family lives under the shadow of his domineering father, a railroad man. Happy family moments are stopped cold by the sound of the train whistle that announces Father¿s impending return. Rodolfo, Neftalí¿s older brother, has already abandoned his dreams of studying music and becoming a singer, and Father is doing his best to railroad Neftalí onto the same path of leaving dreams behind and pursuing the future of Father¿s choosing. But while Neftalí appears to be a weak, vulnerable child, he has hidden reserves of strength and stubbornness.Munoz-Ryan does a wonderful job of capturing the nuances of Neftalí¿s character. His compassion and curiosity are almost overwhelming, and they often get the better of Neftalí¿s desire to please his authoritarian father. His fascination with words is woven into the text as he plays with their sound and meaning. The story is episodic, and the scenes are well chosen to crystallize the moments that made Neftalí into Neruda, but they also hang together well to tell a story of a shy young man with a highly developed sense of wonder. One of this book¿s greatest strengths, in terms of getting it into the hands of children, is that it easily stands on its own as a novel. There is no need to know anything about Pablo Neruda to appreciate this book ¿ in fact, there is no need for a reader to even know that it is based on a true story. While being aware of Neruda¿s life certainly adds layers of resonance to this book, the story will be enjoyed by anyone who can appreciate Neftalí¿s struggles and his unique outlook. The selection of poetry in the back of the book, which includes several of Neruda¿s poems that directly address some of the pivotal moments in the book, is expertly chosen to appeal to young readers and may convince some young readers to seek out more.While Munoz-Ryan¿s telling of Neftalí¿s childhood is wonderful, the collaboration with Peter Sis makes the story sing. Each chapter begins with three small pictures on a single page, each picture showing some scene, feeling, or object that will be important to the text. These tiny drawings echo the small treasures that Neftalí collects, and they evoke the fascination with the world around him and the attention to detail that define Neftalí. Larger drawings, all in Sís¿ characteristic stippled style, illustrate the fantastical ways in which Neftalí sees his world while also working in relevant lines from Neruda¿s poetry (edited to add ¿ please see Pam Munoz-Ryan¿s correction in the comments ¿ these lines of poetry were written by her, not Pablo Neruda.). These drawings are full of wonder, but also very evocative of Neftalí¿s feelings in that moment ¿ whether that is fear of his father looming up above the sea, sadness and protectiveness of a hurt swan, or the excitement of traveling and making new friends. Sís¿ drawings do with ink lines what Neruda¿s poetry does with words ¿ they crystallize feelings and experiences down to their essence, conveying them in briefly but completely. They complement the story, and the poetry, beautifully. Asking Peter Sís to turn Pablo Neruda¿s imagination into visual form was a stroke of genius, and one that will give young readers an additional window into the world of his words.
ElizaJane on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Reason for Reading: I wouldn't have read this if I hadn't received a review copy but Ryan is the author of one of my son's favourite books that he has had read to him multiple times, Riding Freedom, and I love Peter Sis' artwork. Besides, I always enjoy a good biography, even children's fictional biographies. The poetry angle did worry me though as I am not a fan of poetry in general (except for the silly, rhyming kind ala Shel Silverstien and specific epic poems).This tells the story of Neftali Reyes' childhood, better known by his pen name Pablo Neruda, a great 20th century poet and winner of the Nobel Prize, though I've never heard of him before. And quickly sums up his adulthood in the closing chapters. The last pages include a sampling of his poetry. He had a rough, some would call abusive childhood. A mother who died 2 months after his birth, he and his two siblings were raised by a domineering father who had no patience for daydreaming or idleness. He had worked himself up from poverty and expected his sons to have careers that he never had the opportunity for himself. The eldest son wanted to be a singer, and this was driven out of him brutally by the father who set him up as a businessman after sending him to college. His plans for Neftali were even loftier, expecting him to be a doctor. But Neftali fell short of his expectations in every aspect, being a thin, gangly, weak, sickly child who daydreamed, collected bits and pieces of detritus and loved to write. His father tried everything in his power to drive this creativity out of him, but with the encouragement of a newspaperman Uncle he was able to hold on to his ambition, deep down, until he escaped his father's influence. He did change his name though to save his father from the embarrassment of publicly having a poet and government dissident for a son.The story of Neftali's life is very interesting and the book reads with a gentle poetic flow, in keeping with its subject matter. The book has been printed in green ink as that is how Pablo Neruda himself liked to write. The author Pam Ryan has inserted her own short poetry here and there and the illustrations are accompanied by poetic questions in the form of Neruda's own "The Book of Questions". This will all be a bonus to poetry lovers especially those familiar with Neruda himself. Not liking artsy poetry myself, it didn't appeal to me but didn't bother me much either.Also the author has used magical realism to delve inside Neftali's imaginative, daydreaming personality writing his fantasies as if they were indeed happening. For instance, there is a scene where he finds a rhinoceros beetle in the forest for the first time and is fascinated with it, as he watches it, it grows larger and larger until it kneels down its front legs and offers itself to Neftali who then climbs aboard and sets off for a ride through the forest. I am a big fan of magical realism but this didn't work for me in this book as it just came across as a device the author was using to make the book even more artsy and poetic. There are several such episodes but they are not overwhelming. Overall, I really did enjoy the story of Neftali Reyes' childhood and would read his memoirs or a non-fiction biography if I happened to cross paths with them but I was not overly impressed with the artsy-f*rtsy ingredients added to this book and would have much preferred a straight historical fiction. Critics, I'm sure will love the book for its artfulness though.
amandacb on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Neftali is, and always has been, different¿he sees the beauty in everyday objects (like pinecones and stones) and his imagination takes flight at the slightest whim. Neftali¿s father dislikes these behaviors very much and discourages his son from reading too much or from writing¿and Neftali is a very gifted writer.Neftali, living in Chile during a time of extreme civil unrest, siphons all of his emotional confusion and pain into dreams and writing. Even when his father burns all of his notebooks, it does not deter Neftali from following his dream of becoming a writer. He eventually makes his way to the university, where his studies to become a poet, taking the pen name of Pablo Neruda, a poet who celebrates the beauty in the common and in his country.Written in an absorbing mix of prose, poetry, and art, The Dreamer portrays the struggles a young Neruda experienced and how it affected his writing. The lush descriptions of the countryside are juxtaposed with the harsh realities of the political unrest, all subjects which Neruda tackled in his poetry.
JeSouhaite on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Recapturing the childhood of Chile¿s greatest poet, Ryan spins a tale that¿s poetic, atmospheric, and wondrous. Neftalí¿s imagination runs free despite and autocratic father who¿s trying to make him into a man. Get lost in the rhythms of the lush rain forest or the pounding waves of the seaside.Ages 10+
oapostrophe on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I'm a bit over the top about this book. I loved it. Neftali the sickly young boy who loves nature and words feels the disapproval of his over-bearing railroad-worker father. This is a fictionalized story of the childhood of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. The physical book is so lovely from the beautiful cover and the intersticial illustrations by the wonderful Peter Sis, to the green ink, to the size itself. A treasure.
DianeVogan on LibraryThing 26 days ago
This book is so well put together. The childhood of poet Pablo Neruda is told in the form of a long poem. The parts of his life chosen for the story relate to the poetry that he wrote (which the author was considerate enought to add at the end of the book). This story makes us care about boy and his dreams to be his own person. Peter Sis adds magical illustrations to bring the dreams alive.
lilibrarian on LibraryThing 26 days ago
This is a fictionalized biography of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. It tells how he grew up as a shy child with an overbearing father, and found his way through words.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about a boy, Neftali, who embarks on his own “quest” to find himself. Throughout his journey, he runs into trouble and people who don’t believe in him. He makes friends, loses friends but most importantly, learns the real value of friendship. The thing I really liked about this book is that it mixes reality and fantasy so well, it makes you think that it might be possible for some of the events to actually happened. It also mixes the bad and good things about Neftaili’s life so well, that half of the time, you’re wishing you were him and the other half you’re feeling bad for him. I really recommend this book if you’re looking for a sweet, poetic, imaginative book.
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