The Dreamer

The Girl Who Dreamed the War Over

Children - Picture Book
35 Pages
Reviewed on 03/28/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Courtnee Turner Hoyle for Readers' Favorite

The Dreamer is a children’s book by Tzuri King, Julie G Fox, Leonora Bulbeck, René Nel, and Natali Barbalat. Torria lives in a bomb shelter with her brothers, mother, and grandmother as the effects of war rage around them. The attacks are so frequent that the family cannot go outside for a few minutes before another bomb warning is issued. Her only reprieve is in her dreams, where Torria uses the subjects from her grandmother’s nightly stories to envision the people she misses and loves. Mysteriously, each time when she awakens, she finds that, in one way or another, her dreams have come true. The authors provide a place for children to draw and write about their dreams, and the book is part of a series dedicated to promoting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Using the thread of Torria’s innocent prayers and the vivid subjects of her grandmother’s poems, Tzuri King, Julie G Fox, Leonora Bulbeck, René Nel, and Natali Barbalat have done a brilliant job of weaving together the story. The authors speak to their readers from the copyright page to the end of the book, reflecting their own style of communication, instead of adopting common practices. The vibrant colors will catch the eyes of readers, and the book will be dear to them long after the last page. The story is comforting and gives readers a sense of safety as they understand Torria’s situation. Even though Torria seems to dream her wishes and prayers into her life, the story is realistic, and it provides a happy ending. The Dreamer is a great selection for children who fear the uncontrollable effects of war and wish they had the power to end it.

Nino Lobiladze

Torria is a little girl living in a bomb shelter with her mother, granny, and two brothers. Her country is torn apart by war. Torria and her family often cannot leave the shelter because of the constant shelling. Torria's granny reads her stories every evening before the girl goes to bed. One is about a boy from Scotland whose friend is the Loch Ness Monster. Then, Torria prays for her dreams to come true. In her dream that night, she sees herself with her cat, Honey, in the Scottish Highlands. Honey, her missing cat, comes to wake Torria up. Another of her granny's stories takes Torria to a kibbutz in Israel, where seagulls dance in their search for food. That night, Torria dreams about her best friend, Katya, who went to Israel with her family soon after the war had started. Torria's mom shows her a message from Katya, who is now away from danger. Torria keeps asking her granny when the war will be over and keeps dreaming about peace. The Dreamer by Tzuri King, Julie G. Fox, Natali Barbalat, Leonora Bulbeck, and René Nel, the first book in a series, brings hope to children and adult readers alike.

The Dreamer is not just a children's book. Tzuri King and Julie G. Fox paint a dark, but to our horror, almost mundane picture of a family spending so much time in a bomb shelter. The repetitions in the text indicate that their life is the same day after day. But there is a distraction from the tragedy of war; the bedtime stories Torria asks her granny to read over and over again like children often do. Natali Barbalat's excellent illustrations contrast the dim light in the shelter and the vivid colors of the world from the stories, where there is no war. Tzuri and Julie do not name Torria's country directly, but the girl prays for yellow and blue dreams, telling us it is Ukraine. At the same time, The Dreamer leaves a place for hope for a better future for all children around the world affected by war. The story shows that children should not be separated from their friends and family members and should not lose their pets because of the endless shelling. But despite the hard setting, the story has a beautiful plotline and ends on a high note. Also, I appreciate the brilliant editorial work by Leonora Bulbeck and René Nel for The Dreamer is flawless.

Diana Lopez

If children value the peace in which they live, they can build a better place for themselves and others. They will also develop empathy and respect. The Dreamer: The Girl Who Dreamed the War Over demonstrates these ideas beautifully. Tzuri King, Julie G Fox, Leonora Bulbeck, René Nel, and Natali Barbalat share a touching narrative to explore these topics. The story concerns an adorable little girl named Torria. She is in a bomb shelter with her family. Every night, her grandmother reads her a different bedtime story, and then Torria says her prayers and has pleasant dreams. Every day something new happens, bringing the good news that little by little brightens her life. Despite adversity, hope is kept alive.

I loved The Dreamer because it teaches so many positive lessons. Tzuri King, Julie G Fox, Leonora Bulbeck, René Nel, and Natali Barbalat discuss war and peace in a clear way for young readers. I liked the fact that Granny reads stories to Torria because readers can see how the magic of books transports you to wonderful worlds. Despite her surroundings, Torria sees a colorful world full of illusions. Although it is not mentioned directly, the book conveys how war creates separation between people. The images are beautiful, with different angles and perspectives, many of which seem to emit magic. The gray environment of the shelter and the colorful places of dreams are equally fantastic, with striking light effects in the darkness. The narration is clear and embodies a message of love. This is a beautiful tale that will allow young readers to dream of great things.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

“May dreams of mine be safe and warm./ May dreams of mine be yellow and blue./ May dreams of mine always come true.” Torria says those same words three times every night after Granny has told her a special bedtime story. The little prayer helps Torria fall asleep, nestled under her blankets with a hat on to keep warm, not in her room, but in a bomb shelter. In The Dreamer: The Girl Who Dreamed the War Over by Tzuri King, Julie G Fox, Leonora Bulbeck, René Nel, and Natali Barbalat, we learn that Torria’s homeland is at war and the days and nights are filled with sirens and dropped bombs. Her world is not a safe one, but she still dreams, and, when she dreams, she hopes for a better world and for things to be right again, for her best friend to be safe, and for her father to come home. Most of all, she dreams that the war is over. Where there is hope, there are dreams, and anything can happen.

Tzuri King, Julie G Fox, Leonora Bulbeck, René Nel, and Natali Barbalat’s picture book The Dreamer is a sweet story, a little sad, but full of hope. We live in a troubled world and many children fall asleep each night wondering if things will ever be right again and if life will ever be safe. Combining fear with the stories and dreams of a little girl, this account follows Torria’s life in a bomb shelter, listening to Granny’s stories at night, then dreaming of a better world. The language is simple to help young readers follow along and there are several repeated passages to emphasize points about hopes and dreams. At the end, there are a couple of pages for the reader to add their hopes and dreams. With beautiful illustrations, this is a great way to help young readers learn about those less fortunate, and those living in daily fear, while at the same time pointing out the importance of holding onto hope and having dreams. Like Zlata Filipović's book Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Sarajevo, this story is both moving and awe-inspiring.

Pikasho Deka

The Dreamer: The Girl Who Dreamed the War Over by Tzuri King, Julie G Fox, Leonora Bulbeck, René Nel, and Natali Barbalat is a story about a young girl who lives inside a bomb shelter with the rest of her family in war-torn Ukraine. The book follows the life of Torria, who loves to listen to her granny's stories. Torria dreams of living in a small cottage in the Scottish Highlands. She also dreams about her fluffy ginger cat Honey and her best friend Katya, who lives in Israel. Above all, Torria dreams about her father coming back home and for the war to end. Her mother and granny assure Torria that the war will end soon. Finally, the day comes when Torria's dreams do come true.

Millions of families have been affected by the devastating war perpetuated in Ukraine by Russia, and most of those families have children. The Dreamer is a children's picture book that sheds light on the lives of those children affected by war but who still dare to dream. Tzuri King, Julie G Fox, Leonora Bulbeck, René Nel, and Natali Barbalat tell a wonderfully wholesome tale that spreads the gentle message of love and peace and reminds readers that no matter how bad things can become, there is still hope if children can dream. The beautifully drawn illustrations add color to the pages and bring the characters to life. Torria's story will give you hope. A relevant book for our times.