Thursday, August 30, 2012

Information Needs of Children - The Dreamer by Pam Ryan

The Dreamer is the story of Neftali Reyes, the Chilean boy who grows up to become author Pablo Neruda. Neftali grows up with his stepmother, older brother, younger sister, and overbearing father who is abusive in almost every way. Neftali is painfully shy and has difficulty talking to anyone outside his family. He is a very smart boy, though, and loves exploring new things and expressing himself through words. He grows up rather frail, and his father tries most everything (including almost drowning him in the ocean) to get him to "man up" and become a doctor. However, as he grows up, Neftali decides he would rather become a poet and write on behalf of the Mapuche – a peoples being exiled from their own land by the government – and in doing so, changes his name to Pablo Neruda to protect himself.

I cannot see this book being popular with children, as there is really no adventure or mystery. However, I do feel the book is something teachers could use as a lesson about Chilean culture, or fighting for a cause in which one believes.

This book may be appropriate for ages 9-11.

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