If I Had a Little Dream by Nina Laden, illustrated by Melissa Castrillon

If I Had a Little Dream by Nina Laden
illustrated by Melissa Castrillon
Purchased for my library with grant funding
I'll be honest, I am so completely in love with Castrillon's illustrations for this book that I can barely even think about Laden's rhyming text. With a limited palette of autumnal colors and a retro feel, Castrillon weaves vines and flowers throughout every charming illustration. I want to dive into each page and walk around, in part because Laden's rhyming text practically invites you to. If I Had a Little Dream is a celebration of the extraordinary that exists in the ordinary, asking readers to "Look, Imagine and Dream." With playfully rhyming quatrains, Laden's main character, a little girl with yellow pigtails, tells readers what she would name things if they were hers, and what they would be like. A house would be named Love and it would make her happy and protect her like a glove. My favorite, of course, is book, which she would name Friend. Friend would go with her wherever she went and their story "would never end." Laden chooses and names everything in her book with joyful creativity, from a garden named Whole to a bicycle named Wings, a brother named Sky and a sister named Song. As If I Had a Little Dream comes to an end, so does the day. A bed would be named Nest and it would hold the narrator's thoughts and dreams, "so they would let me rest." And what if she had a little dream? 

I would name it You.
You would make life magical, 
where wishes do come true.

Castrillon's final illustration, ringed by a garland that, rather than flowers, includes all the things the narrator named over the course of the story, shows a mother and child, cuddling before bedtime. A perfect bedtime story with truly magical illustrations.

Happily, Laden and Castrillon joined forces once again, this time with a boy and a giraffe in this story of rhyming couplets and themes of perseverance, calm and trust.

 Coming this fall, Castrillon has written and illustrated her own book!

 And, illustrated by Castrillon, a picture book biography of Mary Anning

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