by Pam Munoz Ryan and Peter Sis
Scholastic, 2010. 370 pgs. Fiction
Pam Munoz Ryan's exquisite framing of the young life of Neftali Reyes, later to become Pablo Neruda, Novel prize winning Chilean poet and one of the greats of 20th Century literature, is evocative, persistently lovely, and universal in its expression of the links between art and nature. Neftali loves words and collects objects and visions of beautiful things. He longs for friends and an exchange of gifts under the fence with a "friend" he will never meet changes his life and his view of the world. But his father, alas, is particularly unfriendly, always pushing him to excel at math and to prepare himself to be a doctor, a dentist, or a man of business, things he neither loves nor does well. Neftali's inability to ever please his father is increasingly painful to him, but never moves him from his life's purpose. Ryan's poetic prose reflects Neftali's gifts as well as his life and The Dreamer, words and pictures, bids well to become a classic.