DREAM CARVER by Diana Cohn


by , illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8
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Mateo, a young boy who lives in the southern Mexican village of Monte Alban, learns to carve traditional wooden toys (juguetes) at his father’s side. But he is haunted by visions of larger and more colorful animals. When he tells his father of his desire to carve those he imagines, his father discourages him: “Stop these foolish dreams. We have work to do.” But Mateo does not give up—although his first efforts are disappointing. Eventually he succeeds in carving a magnificent quetzal, followed by an amazing array of large, colorful animals in active poses. Cordova’s bright, acrylic illustrations on gessoed ground lovingly portray Mateo, his family, his village, and the amazing wooden animals, splashed with polka dots and intricate designs. Spanish words are interspersed throughout the story; although their meanings are clear from the context, a pronunciation guide would have been helpful. Shepard Barbash provides an endnote on Oaxacan wood carving and the work of Manuel Jiménez, who inspired this story. The message, clearly stated at the outset with a quotation from Goethe—“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now”—may exceed the grasp of the children for whom the book is intended, but Cordova’s depictions of Mateo’s animals may win them over. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8118-1244-8
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Chronicle
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2002


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