Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Dreamer

The Dreamer is a book written by Cynthia Rlyant and illustrated by Barry Moser. It was published in 1993 by The Blue Sky Press.

In the past, when I read a book, I wasn't too preoccupied with who the author was. There have been books that I have loved forever, and books that are new to me, and I always thought it was a happy coincidence when I happened to love two or more books by the same author. (No offense to the books or authors -- I do the same thing will music and movies as well.) This is the first thing I thought about when reading Cynthia Rylant's The Dreamer. I knew of Cynthia Rylant but couldn't put my finger on what her books were. I didn't know if she had a theme to her picture books or if all of her books were about something completely different. I had to look them up to realize that, yes, I had read a few of her books throughout the years. The Dreamer was new to me.

The Dreamer is a book about a young artist who grew confidence in himself with each passing work of art he created. He started out creating a star, and we see the hand of a man cutting start out in the illustrations. He continues to dream, and as the artist he is, needs somewhere to place the stars, so he creates the sky. In my opinion, the illustrations look as though he has painted the sky on the walls and ceiling of a bedroom. At this point in the book, I started thinking about how this is how all kids feel. They want to try to do something, create something, share something, and they found success with what they did, so they try again. This time, what they try is a little more difficult, yet the succeed because they were willing to put themselves out there. In my mind, as I read, I thought about how this could lead to a discussion about creating in small steps, and continuing to move forward with the more you learn.
But then I turned the page. On the next page, Ryant writes, "By morning he had made an earth. Round and sturdy, full of bumps and chunks and ridges. It borrowed the light of the heavens and sat full of form and grace. The young artist, shyly pleased with himself, rested his back against a smooth ridge and gently closed his eyes." This is when I knew that The Dreamer was not about a child at all. Throughout the rest of the story, she tells of all the beautiful things that the young artist creates, first in his mind, and then in reality. With each turning page, I think my prediction of who the artist is has a greater chance of being true. On the last several pages, she writes, "The first young artist, still a dreamer, has always called them his children. And they, in turn, have always called him God.

With the prior knowledge I have, it only took me three pages to realize that the artist in this book was God. Her eloquent words to describe His dream made me picture Him in my head, imagining Him sitting back, thinking through how he would actually create our world. I believe it is a eye-catching, child friendly way to discuss God and how he created Earth.

Although I thought that this book was a good piece of writing, and it made me feel at peace with the beauty in our world, I do not know if it is appropriate for school, in isolation, and may be more appropriate for families to read together at home. When it was published, in 1993, it would probably not have been a big deal to read it within the classrom, but without getting into my own spiritual and religious beliefs, I have to say, that it could anger some parents if this were to be read at school, and books about other religions were not read as well. I do believe that all children can relate to what the artist is doing -- visualizing what He wants and taking the steps to create it, and I believe that is where I would take the discussion if I read this within the classroom. While I read it, the words and illustrations made me feel as though I could dream and have my dreams be fulfilled. It made me feel as though goals I have set could be accomplished and problems I had could be solved, and that is a feeling I would love to bring to a child's heart and mind.

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