22 minutes ago
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I got a package the week before last from a blog friend (that is, we know each other only through reading each other's blogs and have never met). She sent me a book! (People keep giving me books to read lately - I love that!) The book was The Dreamer, by Pam Muñoz Ryan.
The dreamer of the title is Neftalí Reyes, a shy, misunderstood little boy who loves to read, to collect words and objects, and to notice what is beautiful around him. When Reyes grew up he took the pen name Pablo Neruda. Peter Sís did the wonderful pictures.
Muñoz Ryan read about an incident from Neruda's childhood in which a pair of hands from an unseen child next door passed the poet a toy sheep through a hole in the wall. From there, she researched his life and used her imagination to produce this book. Neruda grew up with a demanding father who thought his son was feeble and absent-minded and refused to consider that writing might be a profession worth pursuing. (Neruda's brother, Rodolfo, was a gifted singer and was equally discouraged by their railroad-worker father.) The book describes several events; my favorite was the Cyrano-like story of Neruda writing love letters to the girl of his dreams on behalf of a bigger, stronger, but less literate boy at his school.
I love Neruda's poetry and didn't know anything about his life, so I enjoyed reading this. Neruda found the encouragement and help he needed in spite of discouragement from his father, and was able to grow into, according to an Author's Note, "probably the most widely read poet in the world."
This was book #6 of the year.