Cover Image

Dream Boats by D. Bar-el

Bar-el, Dan.  Dream Boats.  Illust. Kirsti Anne Wakelin.  Vancouver: Simply Read Books, 2013.  Print.

This is a gorgeously illustrated book which offers readers the opportunity to “float” in a dream boat, travelling deep into the richly-embroidered dreams of children from different lands and varying traditions.  The words and images transport us high into the Andes and deep into the rainforests of Haida Gwaii; they take us to the beach in Mumbai and into the city of St. Petersburg; they float on the Niger and sail on the Yangtze. 

The dream metaphor works well for what is frequently a confusing journey through time and space, through personal narrative and shared folklore, and through the walls that divide us.  The central dream of the book is a deeply multicultural dream.  One can applaud the author’s intent more than his accomplishment, for it is just a little bit too easy to become quite lost in this dream world in which so many myths and folktales are represented as amalgams or approximations.  The saving grace is that the author has inspired the illustrator to visualize an exquisite dream world in which it is a genuine pleasure to be lost.

The publisher recommends this book for readers from 4-8 years of age, and this makes sense except that it is difficult to imagine that most children of this age will have enough geographical knowledge or multilayered cultural contexts to grasp the overriding point in even a superficial way.

Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Linda Quirk

Linda is Assistant Special Collections Librarian at the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library at the University of Alberta.