Lowry's poetic, fanciful story of tiny, elfish "dream-givers" who put nighttime imaginings into the heads of human sleepers is not an ideal choice for audio. The many lyrical, detailed descriptions of the dream-givers gathering "fragments" of memory by touching objects and then weaving them into dreams become overlong and slow-moving when read aloud. Likewise, Twomey's soft, soothing voice fits the subject matter, but may well lull young listeners off to dreamland. Twomey does an excellent job of distinguishing her voice for the different characters, particularly an angry, abused boy and the kind elderly woman who fosters him temporarily, both of whom are strengthened by the healing dreams they are sent. Overall, however, this is a less-than-satisfying listen. Ages 10-up. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
One of the best books I have read so far this year is Gossamer by Lois Lowry, which solves the mystery of where dreams come from. Lois Lowry, whose books like The Giver, Messenger, Gathering Blue (all related), and Number the Stars changed the landscape of children's literature forever, tells stories for all of us. They are true AND real, which is the best thing I can say about any book. This new one, Gossamer, is so comforting and enchanting, so full of truth and whimsy, it probably deserves to be on everybody's "must read" list for 2006. Dreams are the stuff the world is made of. I was shocked by someone telling me that dream analysis is a waste of time, self-centered pandering, and not to be encouraged. Wrong. I tell you, dreams DO mean something. And whatever part of the dream you remember is exactly what you need, like the grain of sand at the center of the pearl. Dreams are the way the unseen part of the universe speaks to us. 2006, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 9 to 12.
Lois Lowry's newest novel explores a fantasy world where angelic beings visit sleeping humans to bestow dreams. The short novel weaves together the stories of a novice dream giver, a lonely woman, and a troubled foster child. Our dream giver, Littlest One, learns to take bits and fragments of happy memories from the objects in people's homes and turn those morsels into dreams capable of helping the woman and the boy through the challenges they face in their waking lives. Gossamer is rich in archetypal characters and imagery, reading something like one of the pleasant dreams bestowed by its central character. Although the book will be of interest to young people who are fans of fantasy and rich narratives, its message of gathering strength for the future from the past in applicable to readers of all ages.
Dream-givers. In the night, they slip about the house, collecting wisps of memories from cherished objects and mementoes with which to bestow sweet dreams on their home's inhabitant, a tender but lonely older woman. Littlest One is the newest trainee, delighting in her job nearly as much as she is overwhelmed by curiosity and wonder. Her tutor, Fastidious, finds her tiring and fears that she is too much of a chatterbox to work without calling attention to her presence. Under more patient tutelage, Littlest discovers a rare gift, the gossamer touch, an ability to touch a living being without awaking it. Her unusual gift may make all the difference when a troubled young boy comes to live in the home and the dream-givers' nightmare-granting counterparts, the Sinisteeds, sense his vulnerability and prepare an attack. Lowry, author of many award-winning books, charmingly succeeds again with this lyrical and compelling story about the importance of memory and the transforming power of love. The story of a damaged child and his struggling mother-about the healing that a loving presence can provide-is devastatingly authentic, but the events in Lowry's imaginary nighttime world mesh so effortlessly with the story set in the real world, illustrating so meticulously why good things provide strength in dark times, that it is difficult not to believe her fantasy is truth. The gentle blend of wit and pathos will enchant readers as much as the charming Littlest One does. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2006, Walter Lorraine Books/Houghton Mifflin, 144p., $16.Ages 11 to 15.
Gr 4-7-Readers first meet the dream-givers as they creep around a dark house in the middle of the night where an old woman and a dog named Toby are sleeping. "Littlest was very small, new to the work, energetic and curious. Fastidious was tired, impatient, and had a headache." Littlest is soon paired with a new partner, Thin Elderly, who is a much better guide and teacher than Fastidious was. They are benevolent beings who visit humans (and pets, too) at night. They handle objects, gather memories, and give them back in the form of happy dreams that comfort and help those they're assigned to. The dream-givers' counterparts are the strong and wicked Sinisteeds, who inflict nightmares and sometimes travel in frightening Hordes. And the humans that Littlest and Thin Elderly care for do need help and protection from bad dreams. The old woman is lonely and has taken in a foster child named John, who's living apart from an abusive father and the fragile mother who desperately wants him back. Lowry's prose is simple and clear. This carefully plotted fantasy has inner logic and conviction. Readers will identify with Littlest, who is discovering her own special talents (her touch is so sensitive and delicate that she is renamed Gossamer). John, who starts his stay in the house with anger and violence, will draw a special kind of sympathy, too. Lowry acknowledges evil in the world, yet still conveys hope and large measures of tenderness. While not quite as compelling as The Giver (Houghton, 1993), this is a beautiful novel with an intriguing premise.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Thin Elderly and Littlest One are dream-givers. They bestow dreams, using fragments collected from buttons, toys, photographs, shells and other personal objects that collect and hold memories over the years. The collected fragments become stories of the person to whom they belong, and as dreams they transmit restorative feelings of love, pride, happiness, companionship, laughter and courage. However, Sinisteeds are at work here, too, inflicting nightmares and undoing the careful work of the dream-givers. Readers familiar with The Giver will most appreciate Lowry's riff on the value of memories and dreams and the importance of the sad parts of our lives, too. For such a slim work, the characterizations of Thin Elderly and Littlest are strong-she the sprightly little girl learning her trade, he the bemused and patient elder. The prose is light as gossamer; the story as haunting as a dream. (Fiction. 10+)
“Lowry’s prose is simple and clear. This carefully plotted fantasy has inner logic and conviction. Readers will identify with Littlest, who is discovering her own special talents. . . . A beautiful novel with an intriguing premise.”–School Library Journal, Starred