dream BOATS was written by Dan Bar-el and illustrated by Kirsti Anne Wakelin. It was published in 2013 by Simply Read Books.
dream BOATS caught my eye because on the front cover, it has a beautifully designed origami boat sailing on a yellow see, with the reflection of a different boat and the stars from the sky reflected in the water below. It is an attention grabbing cover I thought that the origami boat was going to be an interesting addition to the book.
dream BOATS opens up to a young boy falling asleep. He is surrounded by white sheets and white origami. He begins the story by telling us, “I don’t have naps. I have adventures. I don’t sleep in a bed. I ride in a Dream Boat.” This automatically allows the reader to start thinking about their dream boat and their secret imagination that works while they are dreaming. Throughout the book, the young boy and many other young children share their dreams with us. They are sailing through many parts of the world – Maiqui in the Andes Mountains at night, Aljuu floating towards the Haida Gwaii shore, Parvati riding towards Mumai and Ivan “sails into St. Petersburg upon a mighty Russian frigate.” With each child, the setting, destination and type of boat each change. They use a Dream Boat that represents the culture that they come from. All of the dreams are full of adventure, but end with the child meeting up with family. They speak about wondering what the others are dreaming about and passing each other in their boats, touching hands as they go. While reading, I thought that they just pictured different kids within their dreams, but at the end it shows all of the kids together, awake, telling each other about the adventures that they had in their dreams. It appears that the kids are together in a daycare or similar setting.
There is a phrase used several times within the book – “Water is memory; water is dreams. Sometimes storm clouds gather. Sometimes it rains and rains. Dream Boats rock. Dram Boats sway. But Dream Boats find safe harbor.” I think that this quote is very powerful, as it represents life. Life changes. Sometimes it is hard and you have to handle the winds and rain storms. Sometimes you sail through and have no trouble getting to your next port. Taking the good with the bad is how we can continue on to that safe harbor.
The illustrations within the text are detailed, and drawn with great imagination. Each setting has a touch of realism and fantasy mixed in. You see the child sleeping in his dream boat, and animals, and others sailing their boats, and others flying their boats within the sky. You see children meeting up with family and going through adventures with animals. In one such illustration, Ivan is watching as bear spirits fight in the clouds. All of the illustrations have dark, rich colors. The pages are full bleed, with so much going on within it. Each child’s dream has a different color pallet, so the pages change from dark oranges to purples to yellows. Some are a deep gray with red undertones and some have a beautiful mix of deep blues with brighter, lighter purples and greens. The illustrations pull you in to each page, wanting to ensure you see all of the detail she has put in there. Although there are many dark colors, the book isn’t sad or full of turmoil. The dark color shows the richness of the dream and allows for the reader to understand that what is happening is not real.
Although this book is full of young children, I believe that it is best suited for older children. There are some deep thoughts within the book, and settings that many young children would have never heard of. The author also touches on many different folktales, such as the Bear Spirits from Russia and Crossing Three Bridges in China on the Chinese New Year, and I think an older child would be able to connect to folktale easier.