Over a decade ago, I was an illustration and graphic design major, struggling to decide if I could really make it as an artist. I’m not talking about making it as in being successful or even just making a living at it. No, I was and have always struggled with feelings of inadequacy as an artist. I’m the apparently typical, overly critical, self-loathing type of artist who never really loves anything that I create. Why am I telling you this? Well, around that time, I was also extremely obsessed with picture books. I would frequently drive 45 minutes to the nearest big town from my school and get lost in the Barnes & Noble children’s department. It had this amazing forest decoration with benches built into the trees that you could sit with books for hours. I would wander around, grabbing a handful of new books and then hole up to get lost in the picture book world. On one of those trips, I crossed paths with Peter H. Reynolds most recent book, The Dot (2003). The first time I read it, I cried. I was awestruck. It moved me and spoke to me and about me in a way that no other book really has done. I bought it then and there with my limited book purchasing funds. It has traveled with me through design jobs, art jobs, marriage, two kids, three homes, multiple art spaces, and still sits on display above my desk in my tiny art studio in NYC. Every time I look at it, I am reminded to simply create. (But perhaps that is a longer story for another, much deserved post.) But this is where my deep love and admiration for the work of Peter H. Reynolds began.
So today, I am extremely thrilled to not only get to show Peter’s newest book; but also to gift it to someone else! There is something magical about Peter’s books. They don’t just entertain, or educate, or even just tell a story. His books inspire, and encourage, and invite readers to be. This newest book is the epitome of that. It does not hide or disguise its mission. It is bold. This book is Peter and is his invitation to everyone else who is like him, a happy dreamer. Come take a look at Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds, 2017 (and stay tuned for the giveaway!).
I’m going to start at the end for this book because I love Peter’s author info on the back flap. And I think it is really important for understanding this book. In his jacket flap bio, Peter states that he is a dreamer. I have recently heard an interview Peter did with Matthew Winner on the All the Wonders podcast about this book. Peter has a big heart for kids that are labeled all sorts of things because they are not capable of just sitting and following directions and doing as they are told. That was him. But he doesn’t see it as a disorder or a problem. Peter sees it as being a happy dreamer.
In this book, we are introduced to a happy dreamer – a boy who has lots of different kinds of dreams. He is constantly told to be things and do things that don’t fit his dreams. He feels boxed in and locked out of his creativity. But he wishes he could share the dreams he has.
Throughout the book, the boy tells of the many different ways he dreams, from daydreams to loud dreams, and everything in between. He talks of being told to clean up his creativity, also known as a mess. And he tells of breaking free of the imposed guides to be the best kind of dreamer he can be… himself.
This book was an interesting struggle for me. I loved it at first because it is Peter H. Reynolds. But I also didn’t love it because it reads very intimately. This doesn’t feel like the right kind of book to be reading aloud to someone else. It feels awkward to share with my little ones or imagine reading it in a class or at a storytime. It feels like you are narrating a very personal testimonial. And I also didn’t love it because it isn’t me, as a child – who lived to please and follow rules – and especially as a parent – who loves kids who listen and follow my rules.
But I kept reading it, to my kids, and to myself. And I listened to Peter tell where the book came from and where he came from too. And I saw it and I saw him and I thought about every kid who isn’t me and the non-rule followers that I struggle to understand in daily life. And, in the end, I actually did see a bit of myself here too. I realized that I am a happy dreamer, but I also impose the rules on myself. See, back in that first paragraph where I let you know what a harsh critic I am about my art; this book was made for me too. This is the magic and beauty of Peter H. Reynolds’ picture books. He knows how to break through. How to say things that you aren’t used to hearing and sometimes don’t recognize needing to be heard. And he inspires you to move forward and be the best you you can be.
I am delighted to pass this book on to someone else who I know needs to read it. Thanks to Scholastic for not only providing me with a copy of this lovely book, but also offering one to my readers! On to the giveaway!
Giveaway Info [Closed]
Thanks for reading and commenting! The randomly generated number was Elizabeth Rubens. Congrats Elizabeth! Send me an email with your mailing info and I’ll pass it on to Scholastic. Happy reading!
Scholastic is giving one dreamer, one copy of this book. Leave a comment below letting me know your favorite Peter H. Reynolds book (if you have one) or any other interesting thought you’d like me to know. The giveaway will close Sunday night (April 16, 2017) at 11:59pm EST and I will randomly choose a winner Monday morning. (U.S. residents only.)
If you can’t wait for the giveaway possibility, you can pick one up in stores or online. I think you’ll love it. And I know you know someone who needs to be let loose as a happy dreamer. I think there is one in all of us. And, be sure to check out the website for the book that includes this awesome activity kit too! (We love book activity kits in our home.) And, I’ll leave you with a word of good luck and this lovely book trailer. Happy commenting!