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DREAM by Matthew Cordell


From the Wish series

by Matthew Cordell ; illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Pub Date: May 2nd, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-4847-7340-6
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

A (gorilla) parent’s dream for a child.

First-person narration relates the joys and hopes a new parent feels in this offering from Cordell. “We looked upon you, impossible you, and we felt everything,” reads the text in an early spread, revealing heartfelt and earnest sentiments about parental love. This tone is undermined, however, by the painterly watercolor-and-ink illustrations of a semianthropomorphized gorilla family rather than a human family or even fully anthropomorphic animals. These gorillas live in furnished grass huts and use tools but go unclothed and walk on their knuckles. Are they gorillas in order to try to engage child readers with a text that is essentially about validating and representing parental love? Perhaps, but the juxtaposition is rather jarring. One gorilla parent is the text’s narrator/dreamer, and the dream envisions the child growing and changing, having triumphs and hardships. The child becomes a painter, and at the end of the dream, the parents stand in front of their small hut and wave goodbye as the child (now grown) leaves home with paintbrushes strapped to its back in something like a quiver. In waking life, the parents gaze at their infant in its crib and wonder “what will you dream?” and the book ends with a closing portrait of the family.

A sweet book, though it’s undermined by character choice.

(Picture book. 3-5)