Dreamers

Dreamers

Yuyi Morales tells her own immigration story in this picture-book tribute to the transformative power of hope . . . and reading. In 1994, Yuyi Morales left her home in Xalapa, Mexico and came to the US with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn't come empty-handed.She brought her strength, her work, her passion, her hopes and dreams...an...

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Title:Dreamers
Author:Yuyi Morales
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Dreamers Reviews

  • Laura Harrison

    Yuyi Morales needs to start working on her Caldecott speech right now. This is picture book perfection. Yuyi's numerous illustration's of classic picture books are stunning, wonderful and a whole lot of fun. A breathtaking, timely dream of a book.

    This is an update and an egad! moment. Stunned that Yuyi Morales did not win a Caldecott. Not even an honor. Yes, she won a plethora of wonderful awards. But she deserved a Caldecott. I don't know a single person who is part of the children's lit world

    Yuyi Morales needs to start working on her Caldecott speech right now. This is picture book perfection. Yuyi's numerous illustration's of classic picture books are stunning, wonderful and a whole lot of fun. A breathtaking, timely dream of a book.

    This is an update and an egad! moment. Stunned that Yuyi Morales did not win a Caldecott. Not even an honor. Yes, she won a plethora of wonderful awards. But she deserved a Caldecott. I don't know a single person who is part of the children's lit world in some capacity who did not anticipate an easy win for Dreamers. I am stunned beyond belief and will probably be stunned for the rest of my life over this one.

  • Jillian Heise

    Gorgeous. Powerful. Important. Full of love.

    Oh, how I hope this is in Caldecott contention.

  • Niki (Daydream Reader)

    This is THE book!! Everyone should own it. Read it. Read it aloud. Share it. Share it with children. So beautiful. Moving. Powerful. Hopeful. I love this book!

  • Lisa Vegan

    She mentions my San Francisco library branch and other branches I’ve used, as ones she and her son used! San Francisco is in this book in a big way.

    The final 4 pages are her story (so touching and inspirational!) and a long bibliography of books meaningful to the author (woe to my growing to read list but many of the books I’ve also already loved and some are apropos of the topic of this book) and there is a wonderful short section about how she created the art for this book. Having that inform

    She mentions my San Francisco library branch and other branches I’ve used, as ones she and her son used! San Francisco is in this book in a big way.

    The final 4 pages are her story (so touching and inspirational!) and a long bibliography of books meaningful to the author (woe to my growing to read list but many of the books I’ve also already loved and some are apropos of the topic of this book) and there is a wonderful short section about how she created the art for this book. Having that information cemented my 5 star rating.

    Great immigration story and it’s sorely needed right now. I can recommend this book to all picture book readers. A love letter to libraries and to books so recommended to those who love them. I appreciated how she mentioned a librarian and library branch by name when relating one event. I enjoyed the bit of humor, and mostly the heartfelt account.

    Gorgeous art and fits 100% perfectly with this story. I particularly relished the pictures of libraries and books, including some specific books. The art by itself isn’t my very favorite aesthetically but I love it in the context of the author’s story. I spent a lot of time looking at the many lovely details included in the pictures. I appreciated so much that she tells her story and turns around right in the book and asks her readers/viewers to tell their stories.

    Highly recommended for all immigrants, all who wish or need to understand the immigrant experience, especially regarding people who don’t at first speak/read the language of their new homes, book lovers, library lovers, and the children of San Francisco; this book is dedicated to them.

    4-1/2 stars

  • Betsy

    Work in the children’s book business long enough and you run the risk of harboring grudges. Or, to be more specific, grudges o’ love. Grudges on behalf of the hardworking authors and illustrators that never seem to get their adequate due. There are whole lists of talented people out there that somehow don’t appeal to award committees, year after year, in spite of their supreme talents. That’s why it makes me so happy when things begin to change. Yuyi Morales may be a name new to you, but I’d bee

    Work in the children’s book business long enough and you run the risk of harboring grudges. Or, to be more specific, grudges o’ love. Grudges on behalf of the hardworking authors and illustrators that never seem to get their adequate due. There are whole lists of talented people out there that somehow don’t appeal to award committees, year after year, in spite of their supreme talents. That’s why it makes me so happy when things begin to change. Yuyi Morales may be a name new to you, but I’d been following her career closely over the years. Her remarkable model work on her Caldecott Honor winning book

    was preceded five years earlier by the unjustly ignored model work she did on Tony Johnston’s

    . And for all that the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor given to

    celebrated her unique ability to enclose and encircle and gather together, where was the wide acclaim for her earlier Mexican wrestler delight

    ? So you can imagine my happiness when I saw

    for the first time. Not since Jerry Pinkney’s

    have I had such a palpable sense of a long-term artist finally getting their due. Now, at long last, the world will know better the name “Yuyi Morales”. And keep knowing it too, if I don’t miss my guess.

    On the title page, a girl sleeps on a desk, a pencil fallen from her hand and drawings scribbled beneath her. Turn the page and now that same hand is holding a pencil, but it is adult now. It has written “Amor – Love – Amor.” above the image of a mother and child falling towards one another. The text reads, “I dreamed of you, then you appeared.” The child is tiny and the two travel across a bridge to a place full of fog and bats and words that cannot be understood. Unable to connect, the two learn, make mistakes, and just walk endlessly until they reach “a place we had never seen before.” The books there are for the taking and it is “Where we didn’t need to speak, we only needed to trust.” And with trust comes knowledge. And with knowledge comes creativity and art and the ability to find your own voice. And the hand that at the start wrote “Amor – Love – Amor” writes “Love Amor Love” at the end. A personal note from the author and an extensive Bibliography of “Books That Inspired Me (and Still Do)” bring everything to a close.

    Okay. Quiz time. Books closed, people. And no Googling when I finish my question, okay? Ahem. Please name me three picture book memoirs, written by their subjects. Go. A tricky proposition, is it not? The memoir, by its very definition, unless written by a child is going to be about an adult remembering either a specific moment in their life or a moment in their childhood. I’ve seen a wide range of them over the years too. On the more fantastical side you’d get books like William Joyce’s

    , which look at childhood memories. On the opposite side of the spectrum there’s Michael Rosen’s gut-wrenching

    about the death of his son and the aftermath of grief. Jacqueline Woodson takes a broader view, chronicling her family, but always including herself, in books like

    and

    . Yuyi’s book is interesting because of the books mentioned here,

    actually bears more in common with

    than any other. But where Rosen’s story is about how the relationship between a father and son is cut short, Yuyi’s is about how a son’s life is poised on the outset to begin, and how she soars right alongside him. To pair the two together is to pair life with death, grief and hope. And it speaks to the depth and breath of picture book memoirs, for clearly there are as many ways to write them as there are pages in a tree.

    Which leads, in its oh so natural way, to the question that invariably comes up when folks start talking about picture book memoirs: Is this really a book for children? It’s not a ridiculous question, but it does speak to a lot of assumptions people have when they discuss literature for small children. There is an unspoken understanding that unless the hero of your book is small and has either feathers or fur, they cannot be both adult and the story’s protagonist. Never mind anything else. Adult humans bereft of magic are not considered sufficient heroes in young children’s stories. Not unless there’s something goofy about them, like they grow balloons out of the ground, are whimsical, or have magic powers. Now in the case of

    the question is fraught because while this is a memoir it is also a celebration of both mother and child. In this way, it at times feels like it would fit in with the baby shower books. You couldn’t take a dart and throw it in a bookstore without hitting a picture book about a parent celebrating the birth of their child somewhere in the stacks. These books are invariably given at baby showers, ostensibly to the child when really it’s for the parent. Is

    such a book? Some might think so. Others, however, would dig a little deeper and examine precisely what’s going on here. Because here’s the secret of the whole endeavor: Any picture book is for children if the adult reader has a clue about how to tackle it. And just because the adult is telling the story, that doesn't mean kids aren't going to be able to parse together what they say.

    Here’s one method for engaging child readers: Let them decipher each picture. There’s a method of teaching picture books called The Whole Book Method (founded by Megan Dowd Lambert, developed in association with the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art) that, simply put, forgoes the idea of reading “to” children and engages by reading “with” children. Books like

    are perfect for this method of reading collaboration. What’s nice is that Yuyi has put all the clues there before you. For example, notice how the English words when the mother and child first arrive appear as backwards letters in the clouds. I’m reminded of the words in Shaun Tan’s own immigration book,

    . Like Yuyi, he sought to make the words in the book simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar, so he would cut them up and rearrange them in unfamiliar patterns. No fool, she pays homage to him, including

    in her book on the page where it reads “and to make our voices heard.” But there are other details that reward rereadings as well. Early in the book, Yuyi writes, “Once day we bundled gifts in our backpack.” Inside we see the neck of a guitar, a raining cloud, a sun, a moon, a star, a flower, a skeleton coiffing its hair, a howling animal, a beaded heart, a volcano, a leaf, a pencil, and a bird. That backpack remains on the mother’s back for the whole of the book until the moment the librarian offers a library card. Then, and only then, the “gifts” burst out of the backpack, though it is interesting to note that while the mother offers her baby to the card, she keeps at least one foot rooted in her gifts. After that, the gifts fly about the both of them, replaced in the backpack by books. Finally, there are aspects to the art that defy normal conventions and invite the most interesting of speculations. You, the adult reader, could build whole discussions with your kids regarding the mother’s skirt in this book. Is it even a skirt? Is it feathers? Is it fire? Why does it reach up when it could reach down? Is there a significance to that?

    Under normal circumstances, when I want to find out how the art in a picture book was created, I turn to the publication page. There, in words almost too tiny to make out with the naked eye, the publisher will sometimes answer the curious reader’s questions. You can read how the book was done in watercolors or on a computer. Sometimes, if they’re feeling particularly inventive, they'll say how the art was constructed with raw cotton, or photographed glass, or fire! In this book, Yuyi Morales includes an explanation of the art that I would write here but cannot because I haven’t the space. She begins with the usual suspects. The acrylics on paper with ink (“and a nib pen that once belonged to Maurice Sendak”). But much of the art here consists of photographed images of textures and papers and fabrics that carry special meaning for Ms. Morales. Kelly’s childhood drawings. The floor of her studio. Walls from the streets of her hometown. By the end of reading this, the Bibliography, and the Author’s Note at the back, you are perfectly aware of what a personal book this is to its creator. And like any good memoir, only by making the book as specific and personal as possible is Ms. Morales capable of tapping into the truly universal.

    Yuyi Morales is hardly the first person to pay tribute to other children’s book writers and illustrators by including images of their jackets in a book, but she may be the first I’ve seen to do so many and NOT fall back on the usual suspects. Usually, when this is done, it is rote.

    next to

    next to

    , or what have you. The very first thing I noticed in this book was that the titles were (A) Clearly beloved favorites but NOT overly familiar and (B) All from a very specific publication period.

    by Keiko Kasza was my first tipoff that this book wasn’t going in the usual directions. Looking closer at her choices I saw a wide array of publication dates, a special attention paid to creators of all backgrounds, and even the occasional adult title (

    by Sandra Cisneros) slipped in on the sly. And not just book covers either. Repeated inspections of the pages reveal title after title after title, accurate right down the spine, the font, and the colors of the jackets themselves.

    I just stopped myself from launching into a whole paragraph about the possible Christian imagery you could find in the book if you really wanted to, but let’s sideline that discussion for another day, shall we? The fact of the matter is that

    is the best kind of picture book because it makes you want to think and discuss and think some more and get opinions from other people, and still think. It opens up discussions, not just about the ideas I’ve listed here, but about immigration, loneliness, the Dreamers and undocumented. Yuyi Morales writes in the back of this book, “All of us have stories. Each of them is different.” And then at the end, “Now I have told you my story. What’s yours?” I think the better parts of our lives are spent in trying to figure out what we want to dream at all. Books like this one help. They help kids. They help parents. They help everyone. A clear-cut example of the rarest kind of best we hope for when we read a book to our children. You couldn’t ask for better.

    For ages 5 and up.

  • Jason

    This is a part of why I am a librarian, and why libraries are vital to--yes, I mean every word of this--the survival of American culture and humanity. Any public library that is true to its roots stands as the only public institution where all are truly welcome and where nothing is asked of anyone but respect for others.

  • Danielle

    Goodness, this book! Exquisitely beautiful, original, and meaningful. A story of mother and son, of love, of finding your place in an unfamiliar country, of the power of libraries and books and the need to welcome all those who travel to a new place and who dream with love.

  • Manybooks

    Although I do not often tend to grant five star rankings anymore (having become and perhaps indeed also a bit sadly considerably more and more critical lately and less patient with regard to a given book not one hundred percent satisfying and pleasing my personal reading pleasure as well as my academic and for picture books my aesthetic standards) I am going to make a happy and shinning exception with regard to Yuyi Morales' 2018 immigration-themed

    . For while Morales' accompanying illus

    Although I do not often tend to grant five star rankings anymore (having become and perhaps indeed also a bit sadly considerably more and more critical lately and less patient with regard to a given book not one hundred percent satisfying and pleasing my personal reading pleasure as well as my academic and for picture books my aesthetic standards) I am going to make a happy and shinning exception with regard to Yuyi Morales' 2018 immigration-themed

    . For while Morales' accompanying illustrations are not really totally to my aesthetic tastes (that while I absolutely enjoy if not even love her sense and use of colour and how she depicts buildings, flowers, animals and the like, I have always found and not just with her latest picture book at that, not just with

    , that her human figures are sometimes a trifle too unrealistic and garishly hued for me), her presented (and autobiographical) narrative, the personal immigration story she relates in her

    in oh so so very many ways is totally and utterly relatable to and for me as a fellow (and book loving) immigrant that I was basically and yes almost constantly nodding my head with and in understanding and commiseration whilst perusing and loving

    .

    Because just like Yuyi Moralles relates how she in 1994 when she immigrated with her infant son from Mexico to the United States of America, the public library and discovering books became her vehicle for learning English and for slowly being able to feel at home and settled in her new country of residence (and her son as well, as

    obviously is about both of them, although truthfully, I did and do focus mostly on Yuyi and not so much on her son Kelly), when I immigrated to Canada from Germany with my family in 1976 (at the age of ten and speaking NO English whatsoever at that time), it was the discovery of the school library (absolutely full full full of books and something that my small village school in Germany most certainly did NOT have in 1976) which not only enchanted me but also absolutely and truly jumpstarted my rather fast mastery of the English language. For I have always loved reading, and when I realised that I could sign out books of my choice from the school library, like Yuyi, these books became my life and basically also in ALL ways my ESL instructor (even though unlike Yuyi, I actually had to at the beginning fight a bit for the right to sign out books appropriate for my age group, as at first, the school librarian only and annoyingly for and to me wanted to let me sign out the easiest board books, because she thought that it would be too frustrating for me to read children's novels with my at that time limited English, until I managed to somehow and luckily for me convince her that as a ten year old, having to sign out board books obviously meant for toddlers was a bit embarrassing and if I had trouble with comprehension and unfamiliar vocabulary words, there was always the dictionary).

    Highly recommended as a wonderfully authentic (and colourfully exuberant) immigration story is Yuyi Morales'

    , and in particular since it so totally and joyfully celebrates the power of books and reading and how the latter (through libraries etc.) is and should be celebrated as a lovely, versatile and indeed very much and often also a successful tool for new, for recent immigrants to quickly and pleasurably learn the language or languages of their new countries of residence (provided of course that the immigrants in question are in fact literate, that they actually do know how to read and are speaking a language that is not just oral, that also exists in written form, for if that is not the case, then naturally, said immigrants will first have to be taught their letters, will have to be instructed on how to read in and of itself before they can truly appreciate and use the power of books).

  • David Schaafsma

    Yet another picture book about immigration/refugees, which are going to continue to be so important, but this one is special in that it is written and drawn by a woman, Yuyi Morales, who left her home in Xalapa, Mexico and came to the US with her infant son. She is not one of the "dreamers" who are being used as some kind of cruel political football in the debate about immigration.

    Morales came here and began to construct her dream through public libraries. She learned to read English (and conti

    Yet another picture book about immigration/refugees, which are going to continue to be so important, but this one is special in that it is written and drawn by a woman, Yuyi Morales, who left her home in Xalapa, Mexico and came to the US with her infant son. She is not one of the "dreamers" who are being used as some kind of cruel political football in the debate about immigration.

    Morales came here and began to construct her dream through public libraries. She learned to read English (and continued to read Spanish) with her son there. She loved the stories and was determined to tell them herself in her own books, and she has since written and/or illustrated many books.

    The text is simple, not remarkable, inspirational, but it is followed in an afterword with the tale of the story of how and why she came to the U.S. An appendix also includes a long list of books about immigration and related topics that inspired and guided her in the making of this book.

    She also includes the story of how the book got made, including the fact that she drew it with the same nib pen that once belonged to Maurice Sendak. She painted with acrylics and drew on paper with ink and brushes. She photographed and scanned things form her life including her own childhood drawings and her son Kelly's drawings. Cool?! Textured, layered, personal project.

  • Trudie

    This is fabulous.

    I picked this up as part of my Read Harder challenge to read a children's book that had won a diversity award, and rather than pick one book I have selected three but I think this might be my favourite.

    My eye was immediately drawn to the mixed media nature of the illustrations. The author explains how she used photographs and scans of things like the old walls of her home town, traditional Mexican fabrics, and her sons childhood drawings to add a wonderful dimensionality and i

    This is fabulous.

    I picked this up as part of my Read Harder challenge to read a children's book that had won a diversity award, and rather than pick one book I have selected three but I think this might be my favourite.

    My eye was immediately drawn to the mixed media nature of the illustrations. The author explains how she used photographs and scans of things like the old walls of her home town, traditional Mexican fabrics, and her sons childhood drawings to add a wonderful dimensionality and intimacy to this book.

    It also helps that of the many books illustrated on these pages my all time favourite graphic novel

    by master illustrator Shaun Tan was spotted near the end.

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