“A stunning achievement,” wrote Kirkus in its review of the spectacular and utterly refreshing behind-the-scenes look at the creation of a landmark 20th-century American work in Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring. It took a team—two authors, an illustrator and an editor—to communicate so perfectly “the excitement and drama of the creative process” presented here.
Printed in a warm shade of evergreen and illuminated by Peter Sís’ signature spare quasi-pointillist pen-and-ink drawings, Pam Muñoz Ryan’s achingly beautiful fictionalized account of the childhood of Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto—better known to the world as Pablo Neruda—employs a dazzling array of forms to capture the genesis of her subject’s poetic genius and budding political activism in The Dreamer.
Thin, sickly, stuttering and shy, Ryan’s young Neftalí is dogged by two opposing forces that wish to direct his life—the imaginative lure of poetic expression and his domineering father. Kirkus asked Ryan and Sís about the challenges and interpretive choices involved in rendering so famous a figure’s life, especially for young readers.
“Mark Twain was a project I’ve considered for years,” says Barbara Kerley. “I remember being fascinated with him in college and ever since then hoping I could tell a story about him in a way that kids would find accessible.” When she discovered that Twain’s 13-year-old daughter Susy Clemens had written a biography of her father, she was intrigued; she knew from raising her own daughter that 13-year-olds “just tell it like they see it.” In this large-format picture book, Susy has a chance to “set the record straight” about her famous father. The narration is filled with quotes from Twain; miniature inserts of Susy’s biography, spelling errors intact (“He is as much a Pholosopher as any thing I think,” writes Susy), provide a glimpse of Twain as both parent and author.