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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Happy Dreamer, by Peter H. Reynolds. Orchard Books, Scholastic. 2017. $21.99 ages 4 and up

"Sometimes I'm a
quiet dreamer
when I make time
to stay still and
hear myself think -
to let go and see
what takes shape.


Peter Reynolds has written some of my favorite books about children finding out who they are in those things they love to do. I hope that you have seen The Dot (Candlewick, 2003), ish (Candlewick, 2004) and other books he has published to encourage children and teachers to find their best selves in this world. He wants us never to let go of our dreams.

After attending a learning difference conference at Harvard where many of the attendees were highly successful people who shared some of their own challenging learning differences while they were in school, Peter found himself thinking of a poem. He called it Amazing, Delightful, Happy Dreamer, the initials spelling out ADHD. That poem became his new book. I want to share my thoughts about it with you tonight.

It is signature work from a man who knows what struggling with paying attention in school was like.
He wrote it for those kids in every school who may be labelled ADHD, and wants them to know it is 'a gift, not a label'. Truly, their dreaming can lead to many wonderful places. He recognizes their creative spirits, and the fact that many people would rather that they move quietly through life and give focus and attention to learning what must be learned.

The dreamer in this book in jubilant in his love for the dreaming that he cannot help but do. Full of energy and joy, he moves through his days expressing himself in sound, color, surprise, and chaos.

"I have so many dreams it can get messy.
Cleaning up hides my treasures.
If you MAKE me,
I will put my things away.
But then there is
less ME to show."

He is not always happy. Mostly, he is able to find his way back to joy!

The author has a wish for everyone who shares his book:

"May it reassure you that good things are ahead for all us dreamers. And in fact, I do believe that if we are to solve some of the planet's biggest problems—we can't keep trying the same solutions. We must invite inventive, flexible minds to the table. World problem solving aside—if this book encourages my readers to simply be happy with themselves, then I'll sleep—and dream— better at night."

Pages filled with color, movement, and hand-lettered text pull readers along in celebration of dreaming. The final gatefold opens to show many children as happy dreamers  - nature happy, space dreamer, alone happy, daydreamer, and on it goes. It's such a pleasure to take the time to really look at each one. And, it offers opportunity for discussion and perhaps even an answer to the question the author leaves with his audience:

"(What kind of dreamer are you?)

 Don't miss the endpapers! If you are interested in hearing more from Peter Reynolds, please have a listen.

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