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Appelemando's Dreams


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About the Author

Studying in the United States and Australia, Patricia Polacco has earned an MFA and a PhD in art history, specializing in Russian and Greek painting, and iconographic history. She is a museum consultant on the restoration of icons. As a participant in many citizen-exchange programs for writers and illustrators, Ms. Polacco has traveled extensively in Russia as well as other former Soviet republics. She continues to support programs that encourage Russo-American friendships and understanding. She is also deeply involved in inner-city projects in the United States that promote the peaceful resolution of conflict and encourage art and literacy programs.The mother of a grown son and a daughter, she currently resides in Michigan, where she has a glorious old farm that was built during the time of Lincoln.


PreS-Gr 3 --Polacco's story shares some elements of both folktale and allegory. Appelemando lives in a very drab, uninteresting village. For him, dreaming is a way of life. Whenever the boy dreams, his four friends can actually see them. They drift up from the top of his head in paintbox colors and, at one point, literally change their somber world--Appelemando's dreams stick to the wet walls of the village like decals. The warm relationship among the children is delightful--they recognize their need for his dreams as much as his need to have them. The dour villagers, however, see things differently--until the day his vivid imaginings alert them to their lost children. As a result they no longer question the importance of the imagination. The style of these pencil and watercolor drawings is exuberant and full of vitality. The text of the story nests cozily in each drawing so that words and pictures have an unusual unity. With its perfect melding of art and narration, it's a dream come true. --Anna Biagioni Hart, Martha Washington Library, Alexandria, VA

A group of children stuck in the drabbest of villages share a secret: when their friend Appelemando dreams, they can actually see brightly colored, amazing objects float out of the top of his head. Soon they discover that the images stick to anything moist, and disaster strikes one rainy day when--in a place that frowns on nonconformity--the boy's kaleidoscopic dreams ``hold fast to the walls and storefronts of the town.'' To escape the villagers' ire Appelemando and his friends run off into the woods and are lost, but in the end, his dreams save the day. The book's message is somewhat similar to that of Leo Lionni's Frederick --the valuable role of dreamers--but Polacco's ( Thunder Cake ; Rechenka's Eggs ) prose lacks Lionni's subtlety (``Never again would they question the importance of dreams''). As an artist, however, she's as on target as always. The contrast between the dingy village and villagers, rendered in subdued tones of gray, brown and black, and the vivid hues of Appelemando's phantasms makes for an arresting visual juxtaposition and provides Polacco's fertile imagination with plenty of room. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

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