April 04, 2017

Happy Dreamer

Written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Orchards Books/Scholastic
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
April 2017

Peter H. Reynolds’s earlier picture books (The Dot, Ish, Sky Color) have inspired children to be creative and be true to themselves while encouraging their parents and teachers to foster that creativity. Happy Dreamer takes that premise a step further by accepting the foundation that we are all dreamers in our own ways and should be allowed the freedom to dream.

The child in Happy Dreamer –girl, boy, does it matter?–acknowledges that they are a happy dreamer who is good at dreaming all kinds of dreams: daydreams, big and little dreams and creative dreams.  Though that dreaming isn’t always appreciated in schools and elsewhere, with the child being told to sit still or focus, they realize that their dreams “have a mind of their own.”  With that, this child speaks to their different dreamings, in terms of volume and colour and messiness. Profoundly they also acknowledge that there can be a loneliness involved in dreaming but that dreaming can also set you free, “plunging into amazing, delightful, happy dreams.
From Happy Dreamer 
by Peter H. Reynolds
It’s all a question of being an individual and being allowed to be yourself.  And to that end, the dreamer who accepts themself as being okay, offers four glorious pages of illustrations of dreamers from which the readers might identify themselves.

From Happy Dreamer
by Peter H. Reynolds
Peter H. Reynolds, whose books repeatedly make the children’s book world stand up and pay attention, has done so again in Happy Dreamer. He states unequivocally on his website that he has a mission in his art and books:
When I visit students in schools they ask me what my hobbies are. I say thinking, dreaming. If my art and stories can help inspire others to do the same, I'll feel my life had meaning.
(Retrieved from http://www.peterhreynolds.com/mission2.html on April 4, 2017.)
His art of pen and ink with watercolour achieves that easily. There is an illuminating quality to Peter H. Reynolds’s drawings, even when emphasizing the ways in which we as teachers and parents attempt to subdue, even quell, that joie de vivre.  Still the overall message which Peter H. Reynolds upholds in text and art is that of accepting ourselves in terms of our dreams, whether they be wishes or desires or simply contemplations of what could be.  Peter H. Reynolds brings every young reader, and not so young reader, to a place of contentment for whom we are.

There’s only one question that needs to still be asked: What kind of a dreamer are you?

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