Book Review: The Dreamer

Pam Muñoz Ryan's latest book based on poet Pablo Neruda's life

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

The Dreamer
Author: Pam Muñoz Ryan
Publisher: Scholastic Press, April 1, 2010
No. of Pages: 384
Age Range: 9-12 years


The Dreamer follows a young boy, Neftali, in his journey through life. The book was inspired by the life of a Nobel Prize-winning poet from Chili whose pen name was Pablo Neruda. It is a wonderful, rich story that captures the creative side in all of us.

Written by Pam Muñoz Ryan and illustrated by Peter Sis, the story shows how Neftali grew up feeling isolated and unloved by his father.

Neftali's father was very strict and did not approve of his son's hobbies. He would ridicule Neftali and embarrass him. He also tried to change him and make him stronger by forcing Neftali into dangerous situations. Uncle Orlando, who Neftali's father did not respect, was Neftali's only truly supportive role model.

To fill the void that his father's cruelty left, Neftali collected things. He collected words that made specific sounds and called out to him. He also collected items from nature, such as rocks, feathers, and shells. These items were his treasures and he tried to hide them away from his father.

The Dreamer is an emotional story that highlights the journey of Neftali from childhood to adulthood. It takes the reader through the touching and horrifying moments of his life. It shows us that everything we experience makes us who we are, both the good and the bad. All of the pieces in life make up the whole of who you become.

For more information about Pam Muñoz Ryan, you can visit her author website. You can also visit her info page on Scholastic.com.

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