Grades 4 - 6 / Ages 9 - 11.
This new idea about her father so intrigued Willa that she couldn't get it out of her mind.Willa has never known her father, and, for some mysterious reason, her mother won't tell the eight-year-old anything at all about him. When a substitute teacher asks the students to draw a picture of their dads, Willa makes several attempts at an imaginary dad, but she throws them all away for how can she draw a picture of a father she had never seen? Willa and her friend, Marina, decide to make an all out attempt at finding out who Willa's real dad is. She asked so many questions. Some made sense; some didn't. Like any problem, she just mulled it over, supposed, and then made up possible answers or solutions. Willa is like some of her readers - determined to get answers. She kept asking her mother why her father was not around like other fathers were. Willa, not satisfied with her mother's explanations, continues to daydream about her father. She even goes so far as to ask the prime minister to help her find her dad. One day, when her mother's boyfriend came over to the house, she mistook him for her father. After this episode, Willa's mother decides that perhaps she had better sit down and discuss with her why her father wasn't with them.
If her father had been shipwrecked, wouldn't he have been rescued? And then, wouldn't he have come back to his family? So maybe he hadn't been shipwrecked. Maybe that was a story her mother had made up. Maybe he had died and her mother didn't want to talk about it.
Willa hoped he hadn't died. She preferred to think of him alone on an island with hidden treasure. Or maybe not alone. Maybe when the rescue boat came, he was imprisoned by natives and couldn't escape. Or maybe he had already found treasure by then and didn't want to leave. Maybe her mother was mad at him for staying there with all the treasure and leaving them without any. Maybe that's why she never wanted to talk about it.
Dream Dad gives a very true portrait of a child who is curious about a father she can't remember ever having seen. So often adults feel they are protecting their children by not telling them the truth about a missing parent. However, if they had told them, the children would not be forced to use their imagination and transform the missing parent into a perfect person and someone they want to be with. In this case, Willa is able to accept her mother's dating after she learns the truth about her father.
Noreen Paterson is a librarian at the Crystal City Elementary School in Crystal City, Manitoba.
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Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
The Manitoba Library Association
TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS ISSUE - JANUARY 16, 1998.
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