Dandelion's Dream by Yoko Tanaka

Dandelion's Dream by Yoko Tanaka
Review Copy from Candlewick Press
Dandelion's Dream is a wordless, wondrous, magical journey that is challenge capture with words. In the dark of night, in a meadow dotted with flowers, Tanaka transforms a dandelion into a "dandy lion." There are very few picture books that employ predominately black negative space (Jon Klassen's superb This Is Not My Hat comes to mind) and the experience of turning the dark pages, entering a night aglow with the expressive, ebullient lion, is completely transformative. 

A dandelion, one large bud and a smaller one near the roots, curved like a tail, along with three spiky leaves, blooms with a page turn. Another page turn, and this cheerful weed becomes a lion with a boisterous grin, looking ready to play. The view across the dreamlike meadow, dotted with dandelions, some of which look realistic, some of which look like, (surprisingly, considering it is the dark of night) floating sunshine, shows a train in the distance. Hopping aboard, the dandy lion's mane/petals blow in the wind as a bump and a jump send the lion tumbling off the train and onto a fluffy white cloud. Occasionally, Tanaka employs graphic novel-style panels to move her story forward and add elements of surprise, like a fluffy cloud that is actually a sheep. A boat ride, and a kind bird offering a wing that shelters the dandy lion from the rain (kindness and generosity abound in Dandelion's Dream, yet another reason to fall in love with this book) move the story from the country to the city. Each event effortlessly morphs to a new experience, the darkness of a movie theater where, on the screen, children are flying toy airplanes, becomes a mustard yellow biplane, piloted by the dandy lion, soaring over the sleeping city, into the clouds, clouds that evoke the floating sunshine of the dandelions in the field and a dandelion flower that has transformed into a white ball of fluff. A fuzzy full moon hangs in the distance like a beacon and a mirror and, with a final page turn, our dandy lion is  thousands of future dandelions, the tiny florets, seeds attached, floating as if a gust of breath sent them scattered across the page. Tanaka ends her marvelous picture book with these tiny seeds gathered for one final moment of magic, looking like a pouncing lion reaching for the moon.

An unforgettable, unique story without words!

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