fiction favorites…The Dreamer

The Dreamer, by Pam Munoz Ryan, with drawings by Peter Sis

“Ode to the Lizard
by Pablo Neruda 

On the sand
with a sandy tail.
a leaf,
a leaflike

From what planet,
from what
cold green ember
did you fall?
From the moon?
From frozen space?
Or from the emerald
did your color
climb the vine? 

On a rotting
tree trunk
you are
a living
of its foliage.
On a stone
you are a stone
with two small, ancient
eyes –
eyes of the stone.
By the
you are
 silent, slippery
a fly
you are the dart
of an annihilating dragon.


Pablo Neruda was a Chilean poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.  Long before that, however, he was a small boy with a head full of daydreams and wild flights of imagination, a weak boy who loved to read but was terrified of swimming in the ocean, a tender-hearted boy who cared deeply for his smaller sister and empathized with those whose rights were trampled.   From boyhood, Neruda found beauty in the shimmering, metallic colors of a beetle’s shell, the pink burst of flight of a flock of flamingos, the amber and red fragments of sea glass washed up on a beach.  His poetic spirit, though, was utterly unappreciated by his overbearing, cruel father, who attempted to force his will upon this disappointing son. 

 In the fictionalized biography, The Dreamer, Pam Munoz Ryan tells the story of Neruda’s difficult childhood and painful pathway to his life as a world-renown poet.   Ryan tells his story in words as clear as dewdrops, as jarring as a slap in the face, as lyrical as ocean waves.  In other words, her beautiful writing suits her subject matter.  Award-winning artist Peter Sis teams up with her, creating pictures which

pablo neruda

incredibly capture the imaginative wonderings of Neruda’s ever-questioning mind.   A very unusual approach to a very unusual person.  I’d recommend this for approximately 4th grade and up.