Dream stories might not be straightforward, but they can be disappointing.
A child of indeterminate ethnicity dreams of being a dog and thus embarks on an unusual journey in which the dog (which bears a striking resemblance to Clifford the Big Red Dog) becomes a dinosaur, which then turns into a futuristic, Picasso-esque train, and on from there. Strangely, the dog persists as a character in the book despite its initial transformation. These illogical meanderings might be explained by the very nature of dreams, and yet the story remains difficult for young readers to follow. Equally puzzling is the visual style itself—full of miniature icons, such as a winged eyeball, musical notes, and stylized bones, and textured, patterned details but ultimately shallow and repetitive in perspective. It seems reminiscent of Native or Aboriginal stylings, but there is no apparent organic reason for its use. The story closes with the child back in bed, surrounded by toys resembling the characters from the dream (though some are left out, leaving the ending disappointingly unfinished)—a tired and overused trope in children’s literature that Nakamura employs at the expense of a rich story.
A messy assemblage of convenient pieces that doesn’t add up to a satisfying whole. (Picture book. 3-6)