Dandelion’s Dream by Yoko Tanaka

Dandelion's Dream by Yoko Tanaka

Dandelion’s Dream by Yoko Tanaka (9781536204537)

A dandelion in a field of flowers turns into a real lion. Dandelion has feet and paws and heads off on an adventure. A train is rushing past and Dandelion hops on board, riding right at the front of the locomotive. Tumbling off,  Dandelion lands on the back of a large woolly sheep. From there, Dandelion hops aboard a sailing ship, protected from the rain by a friendly seagull. They reach a bustling city, full of rushing people and cars. Dandelion heads into a theater and enjoys a movie with some shared popcorn. Dandelion shifts to being in a plane, inspired by the film, and flies above the city and then over the dandelion field where he started his adventure. By the time he returns to the field, Dandelion has changed once again.

Tanaka tells a wordless story here, filled with dreamy adventures that leap quickly from one setting to another yet show a seamless whole. Done in soft charcoal grays with touches of bright yellow, Dandelion shines on the page. Tanaka cleverly uses lines and shapes to form a story. The ending is particularly beautiful as Dandelion echoes the moon as does the field itself. When the seeds are launched into the sky its rather like fireworks except gentle and quiet.

Beautiful and evocative, this wordless picture book is one to visit again and again. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Candlewick.

Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte

Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte

Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte (9781338255812)

A deaf author writes the story of a deaf protagonist living on Martha’s Vineyard in the 19th century in a community with many deaf residents where the majority of people use sign language when they speak. Mary has never known any other place than her beloved village on Martha’s Vineyard where her deafness is not seen as a disability. Her great-grandfather came from England and settled on the island over a hundred years ago. So when a scientist intent on figuring out the cause of the deafness of the island community enters their world, he is first welcomed. Mary and her best friend decide to follow him around, since Mary has noticed him saying derogatory things about the deaf. When Mary gets too close, the scientist reveals his frightening plan of taking a “live specimen” from the island. Mary is taken to Boston, where she discovers the harshness of being a prisoner and being unable to communicate with anyone about her plight. Mary’s fight to survive and be understood speaks to what we see as disabilities even in our modern world.

This ownvoices novel is a rich glimpse into the world of the deaf community and its long history in the United States. Based on the history of Martha’s Vineyard, the author’s note mentions how she recreated the sign language used on the island which is no longer in use. Her care with acknowledging the land issues between the white settlers and the native tribes of the island is evident on the page. She offers detailed accounts of the community itself, giving a deep understanding to the reader of the warmth, love and acceptance of the community. That is then shown in stark contrast with the reactions of the rest of the world. 

The writing is frank and clear. The author speaks about how she comes at English from a different angle, both as a deaf person and being bilingual. She also shares in sign language conversations some direct translations that allow hearing readers to better understand how conversations flow in that language. The characters are all seen through Mary’s eyes, including her parents. Mary shines at the center of the novel, her experiences and perceptions make up the story, which at times is incredibly difficult to read as Mary is abused and veers towards despair of ever seeing her family again. 

This historical novel is both important and impressive. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Scholastic.