The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan.
Scholastic Press: NY, 2010.

From early years on, Neftali is passionate about observing and understanding life around him. He collects oddities: an old boot, a pine cone from the rainforest, dead bugs, even words that he writes on scraps of paper. Teased mercilessly by neighborhood children and criticized by his father, he remains steadfastly true to himself. His stepmother and siblings do support his individuality, and he becomes more his own person as he ages and gains confidence.

This poetical novel is based on the life of Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda from Chile. It is a testament to a strong personality and imaginative and intellectual growth. Peter Sis's drawings emphasize and enhance the imagination incorporated in the story. Together, the language and images create a magical mood. Neftali's trips to the rainforest and ocean are especially moving, but small things equally absorb Neftali's attention.

Muñoz Ryan also touches on the activism in which the poet becomes embroiled as a young fledgling journalist. Neftali's writings are an early step in standing up to his father. It brings him appreciation from others and places him under the tutelage of a loving and proud uncle/father figure. Journalism also opens a new world for him; one he cannot wait to explore.

The presentation (word and type) is targeted for young readers, though I think the content is as much young adult and there is interest for a wide range of ages.

related-observation of the natural world, writers and poets, education, interest in learning, biographical novel
RL=4th and up

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