Review of The Dream Catcher

The Dream Catcher The Dream Catcher
by Marcelo Verdad; illus. by the author
Primary    Little, Brown    40 pp.
5/24    9780316330664    $18.99
Spanish ed.  9780316566513    $8.99

Miguel and his abuelito wake early to work; the grandfather sells cold coconuts from a small, wheeled cart, and the boy sells dream catchers he makes, a craft that reminds him of his absent (perhaps deceased?) parents. The boy is saving up to buy an airplane, his dream. As they make their way through town selling their wares, they talk about what people might dream of. Some dreams are big, such as living in a castle or changing the world; others are smaller, such as having enough food. Miguel’s grandfather reiterates that “selling my cold coconuts next to you and seeing you smile is all I dream of. I like it here and now because we’re together.” There is a powerful interplay between the words and Verdad’s acrylic paint and digital collage illustrations, dominated by blocky shapes and crayon-like textures. This is most poignantly displayed when the grandfather tells Miguel that some people dream of seeing someone they miss as the boy gazes at two parents walking with their young child. Verdad shows artistic restraint, allowing the reader to intuit meaning and emotional depth by interpreting what this interaction and others like it mean. A moving story of appreciating what you have while still dreaming of a different future.

From the May/June 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Hakim Azzam

Calling Caldecott co-author Julie Hakim Azzam is the assistant director of the MFA program in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She holds a PhD in literary and cultrual studies, with a specialization in comparative contemporary postcolonial literature from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Southeast Asia. Her most recent work focuses on children's literature, stories about immigrants and refugees, and youth coping with disability.

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