Some picture books mean more to parents than the children they are reading them to. Some picture books give parents the opportunity to say important, meaningful things that might be too hard to verbalize. So, in that way, picture books that seem like they are more for parents than kids, like Dream by Matthew Cordell, truly are for parents and kids. Just be sure to find the right time to read a book like Dream out loud to your little wonders, or, even better, read it regularly, on a special day(s) and talk about it. Dream is a great conversation starter!
Cordell's poetic text follows gorilla parents, starting on the night they become parents. They gaze at their baby and wonder, "Who would you be? Who would we be?" Then, the narrator, speaking for both parents, shares a dream in which their baby's life unfolds and they see all that lies ahead for their offspring.
Before the text of Dream begins, we see a hand clutching a paintbrush. And, in the first pages, we see these parents giving their baby things to explore, from toys to art supplies. We see the baby begin to paint and explore the world as the parents look on, "with joy, with fear, and with pride pushed together like never before."
My two oldest children will be twenty-four and twenty this year. My daughter has graduated from college, had two amazing jobs working in schools in America and France and is about to start graduate school. My son will be a sophomore in college this fall, navigating his independence and learning new things about himself and where he wants his life to go. I was the parent who put the paintbrush in my children's hands, gave them (with the help of a village) the toys, experiences and opportunities that would send them into their adult lives with roots and wings, passions and projects, a sense of purpose and direction. For me, reading Dream is like traveling that path of parenthood all over again, remembering when these two adults I now call friends were once babies and toddlers. It's a gift to be taken back to their beginnings as I read Dream, to remember what I wanted to teach them and what they have taught me. To remember how wonderful and sometimes scary it was to have hopes and dreams for them, and to also learn about the hopes and dreams they had for themselves.
As the dreamer in the book sees their child grow, live and experience life, all the while becoming a more skilled and talented painter, s/he says, "we felt everything." That is what it feels like, being the parent of adult children as I read Dream. I feel everything. And it's a good feeling, even with the bumps and bruises we got along the way. To Matthew Cordell I say, thank you for sharing this dream and for reminding me of the journey with this wonderful book.
Source: Review Copy
Be sure to read Wish, in which a much-wanted child arrives.