Ava's Dream


Children - Grade 4th-6th
112 Pages
Reviewed on 01/20/2021
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Author Biography

Joseph J. Ridgway is a New Jersey attorney who has practiced law for over forty-five years. Ridgway is a graduate of Seton Hall University, where he majored in psychology. He is also a graduate of Rutgers School of Law (JD) and Temple University School of Law (LLM in Taxation). Over the course of his legal and academic career as an adjunct instructor, Ridgway has taught American history, business law, and criminal law at various New Jersey and Pennsylvania colleges and universities.

In addition to writing children’s literature historical fiction, Ridgway is an award-winning poet, being consistently nominated for numerous prestigious Pushcart Prizes for his stellar poetry. Further, the author is an accomplished essayist, with his writings appearing in a variety of nationwide publications.

Ridgway lives in Marlton, New Jersey with his wife Diane and their rescue dog Sadie.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Trisha Dawn for Readers' Favorite

Joseph J. Ridgway’s Ava’s Dream is a story about Ava’s journey in learning about the three branches of the government during her summer vacation. A new park had opened up in their town and Ava was more than excited to step through its large silver gates and explore it. One day, Ava notices her friend, Sofia Jo, outside the park with her dad. Sofia Jo is blind so she is always accompanied by her seeing dog, Sadie. Ava is thrilled to see them and immediately approaches her friend and invites her to play inside the park. Unfortunately, Sofia Jo declines her invitation and her father explains there is a rule in the park that states “NO DOGS ALLOWED IN THE PARK”. Ava feels sad for her friend and wants to help her. She asks advice from her lawyer grandfather who is used to helping people solve their problems with the law. Will Ava and her grandfather be able to help Sofia Jo and other people with service dogs enter and experience the fun that they are missing in the park?

Ava’s Dream by Joseph J. Ridgway is an educational children’s book full of valuable lessons relating to the law. The story shows that with hard work and perseverance, you will get the results you deserve. Ridgway gives us an interesting and simplified interpretation of the three branches of the government, making it easier to understand and remember. It also clearly explains the purpose of these three branches of government. The story is a great representation of the information Ridgway wishes to impart. The characters were sympathetic and kind and taught me many lessons - one is that there are laws written for good reasons but sometimes those reasons aren’t enough to keep certain laws from being unfair to others. It taught me that although laws are made with the benefit of everyone in mind, in the end, it doesn’t always benefit ‘everyone’. Another thing I was impressed with was Ava’s determination to help her friend. Her kind personality and perseverance for someone else’s sake really stood out to me. The ending is truly satisfying after Ava and her grandfather’s long and hard journey. Overall, the story is brilliant and well-written; great work!

Shrabastee Chakraborty

Like any other child of her age, Ava loves spending time in the park. That her friend Sofia Jo is unable to accompany her there saddens her. Sofia, being blind, is dependent on her seeing-eye dog, Sadie. However, the rules prohibit all kinds of dogs from entering the park, thus excluding Sofia. Ava sets out to resolve this unfair rule with some assistance from her grandfather. When everyone starting from the policeman patrolling the park to the mayor of the town seems unable to help them, Ava is disheartened. Should she quit her mission, or should she continue fighting for her friend’s rights? What does the US constitution have to say about this? Ava’s Dream by Joseph J. Ridgway can provide the answers.

Seemingly a sweet and short story geared towards children, Ava’s Dream holds a few profound messages. Ridgway introduces young readers to the US constitution and the legal system in the form of a relatable story. He describes the three branches of the government - legislative, executive, and judicial - and their limitations. This book helps children to understand clear concepts through repeated elucidations. Taking Ava’s experience as an example, Joseph J. Ridgway shows how even good-intentioned rules can be unfair, depending on the circumstances. He demonstrates the way to stand up against such rules, albeit in a law-abiding manner. Ava’s story emphasizes that when a cause is worthy enough, you should never give up fighting for it. This book teaches children patience and perseverance, two skills they will require throughout life.

Soumya Sreehari

Civics lessons in school seem to be dry and uninteresting. Ava’s Dream by Joseph Ridgway makes Civics lessons interesting. Ava is an eleven-year-old girl excited about a new park in her city. The grand opening is the summer’s big event and much awaited by all citizens. During the event, Ava is overjoyed with the beauty, vastness, and activities of the park, except for the fact that dogs are not allowed. That means her blind friend Sofia Jo cannot enter the park with Sadie, her seeing-eye dog. Determined to help Sofia Jo, Ava partners up with her lawyer grandfather to solve the problem for Sofia Jo. The story that follows is Ava’s journey and a Civics lesson rolled into one. The appendix includes the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

Children’s books are great sources to learn about critical topics. Ava’s Dream by Joseph Ridgway is written for children but is useful for anyone who is curious to understand the structure of governance at a city level. Through Ava’s story, Joseph outlines the basic structure of the United States government, and how a citizen can solve a public problem. The story is narrated in a simple and lucid manner. I found the story straightforward, instructional, and inspirational. It is critical to educate our children – future citizens – in a relatable manner. This ensures that they are interested in the subject and can further their knowledge as they grow older. The story form is especially effective to hold children’s attention. I highly recommend Ava’s Dream to young children and adults too.