The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In a small village in Chile, Neftali Reyes is a shy boy whose mind is always wandering; he finds beauty in the simplest things in nature and is fascinated by words. His father, however, wants him to be more focused and hard working so that he might become a doctor or a dentist.
The reader follows Neftali as he grows up; we learn that, as an adolescent, he still has trouble focusing in school and that he still has a love of words. In fact, he has filled dozens of notebooks with his thoughts. He also begins to notice the social injustices suffered by the Mapuche people in his homeland and unites with his caring uncle to spread the word about this. He continues to write once he gets to university, only he changes his name to Pablo Neruda so as not to shame his father.
This fictional biography provides the reader with an idea of what Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda’s life was like growing up. Not only does the book share both heart-warming and heart-wrenching stories from Neruda’s past, it also includes illustrations by Peter Sis and bits of Neruda’s own (translated) poetry. Those who enjoyed this book might also enjoy these other fictional biographies: A Mind with Wings: the Story of Henry David Thoreau (Hausman) or Bear Dancer: the Story of a Ute Girl (Wyss).
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