CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 21. . . .February 6, 2015
Dan Bar-el. Illustrated by Kirsti Anne Wakelin.
Vancouver, BC: Simply Read Books, 2013.
40 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.
Review by Kristen Ferguson.
I donít have naps. I have adventures. I donít sleep in a bed. I ride in a Dream Boat. You have your very own Dream Boat too. Close your eyes. Untie the moorings. Then push off from shore.
Dan Bar-Elís Dream Boats is a fanciful book explaining naptime and dreams using the metaphor of boat rides. Throughout the story, the reader watches children from different cultures go on boat rides in their dreams.
Jiang-Li sits high at the stern of her trustworthy junk. Silently, she snakes through the curves of the Yangtze River. The smooth slatted sails open up like giant fans, now golden in the setting sun. On the banks she sees lotus flowers. And then she spies old Chang Kuo-lao riding backwards on his magic donkey. Hey, wait for me! Jiang-Li rides with him through a forest of poems and paper lanterns.
The highlights of the book are the beautiful illustrations by Kirsti Anne Wakelin. These double-page illustrations are, indeed, dream-like, whimsical, and do justice to the multicultural myths and folklore presented in Dream Boats.
The publisher recommends that Dream Boats is suited for ages 4-8. The plot, metaphors, and intertextual references of the myths and folklore from around the world, however, would be lost on young readers. There is a glossary at the end of the book that explains some of the myths and folktales, but its contents would be useful for parents and caregivers, not children.
I read Dream Boats to my nearly six-year-old son. After we read the book, I asked him what it was about. He responded with, ďI donít know.Ē When I asked him what he liked about the book, he simply said he didnít know what dream boats are. What he was fascinated with, however, was the instructions of how to make an origami boat that adorn the inside covers of the book.
When children would be old enough to understand the plot, vocabulary, and textual references of the book, they would likely be too old for the bedtime story genre Simply put, I am not sure who the targeted audience of Dream Boats is. I want to love this book because it is beautifully illustrated, poetic, and multicultural. But, as a childís bedtime story, Dream Boats is too complex for young children. As a coffee table book for adults, however, Dream Boats would be lovely.
Recommended with Reservations.
Dr. Kristen Ferguson teaches literacy education at the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay, ON.
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