A Bestselling Author: Author Susan V. Bosak has written several books. Her bestsellers Something to Remember Me By, an illustrated story about love and legacies across generations, and the classic activity book Science Is... have each sold over 300,000 copies. Dream was her vision from the start. She oversaw all aspects of the book's creation, from the choice of the illustrators to the design of the endpapers.
15 Specially Chosen Illustrators: Each time you turn the page in Dream, a new surprise awaits you. Susan Bosak headed a review committee which combed through hundreds and hundreds of books to choose illustrators that would be just right for Dream. Each illustrator was chosen based on their body of work as well as a style suitable for a given stage of living and dreaming. The idea behind each two-page spread in Dream is to feel each distinct stage of life. For example, the sensory world of a toddler is perfectly illustrated by a playful three-dimensional plasticine piece done by Canada's Barbara Reid. Famous faces from throughout history are brought together in a character-rich library scene painted by James Bennett, who is widely known for his caricatures in magazines like Time and Mad. An interesting note about the famous people in this illustration is that toward the top, right corner is African-American Harold Allen, a
75-year-old youth mentor with Experience Corps in Philadelphia, PA, representing the ordinary person who can make a difference.
Oldest Illustrators: Two-time Caldecott Medal winners Leo and Diane Dillon are both in their early seventies. Married for over 45 years, they describe their unique collaboration – in which they both conceive, draw, design, and paint each piece – as the "third artist," able to achieve things neither individual could alone.
Youngest Illustrator: Bruce Wood, in his early thirties, is the son of children's author Audrey Wood and illustrator Don Wood. He is a fifth-generation artist. His digital art was ideal for the technology/inventions spread in Dream. Some traditionalists argue that the computer is not a legitimate medium for art. Wood disagrees. "I'm using a medium that allows me to combine all the things I enjoy the most. When designing on a computer, I use elements of drama, art, photography, drawing, painting, and sculpture. The computer can be a very creative tool."
A Variety of Styles and Mediums: One of the book's goals is to encourage visual literacy. Each artist chose to participate because they believe not only in the power of dreams, but in the power of art to inspire us to achieve those dreams. The artistic styles in Dream range from the realistic and cozy baby's room done by UK artist Christian Birmingham to the highly symbolic mountain illustration done by Australian Shaun Tan. Mediums used in the book include watercolor, pen-and-ink, colored pencil, oil, chalk pastel, plasticine, acrylic, collage, and digital.
Find the Star: There is a star hidden in each illustration. Hunt for each star – and when you find one, make a wish! This encourages thought and discussion.
Find the Definition: The word "dream" has many meanings. You'll find a complete definition on the title page. Each meaning is used somewhere in the story.
Layers: The book has four distinct layers:
1) the story text; 2) the illustrations; 3) historical quotations at the bottom of each spread intended as "echoes across time"; and 4) the page backgrounds. The page backgrounds create a consistent flow from page to page, a whoosh into each part of living and dreaming. The entire series of digital images by Mike Carter is called "From Reality to Dreams." They represent moving from "what is" to "what can be." The book starts with an emphasis on sand dunes (pages 4-5, representing reality) with only a sprinkling of stars, moves through the tumult of a sandstorm (pages 20-23), and ends with a page overflowing with stars (pages 28-29, representing dreams).
The Dream Chest: The cover of the book is the front of the Dream Chest, so opening the book is like opening your own Dream Chest. Thousands and thousands of years ago, an ancient people carefully crafted the Dream Chest. One night, they set it on the top of a mountain. They called to the universe. A shooting star flashed across the dark sky. It swirled down to earth, circled around the chest, then burst into the chest through the carved star on its scooped lid. The Dream Chest became a magical portal between reality and dreams, "what is" and "what can be."
Seven-Pointed Star: A seven-pointed star was chosen as the key symbol in Dream because in mythology and some religions it represents integration, the unity of mind, body, and spirit, and a lucky number. This star is also used to represent the seven liberal arts of classic antiquity – geometry, astronomy, mathematics, logic, grammar, rhetoric, and music. In engineering, the seven-pointed star represents the supremacy of reason. Scientists have discovered that when stars die and explode, they give off the elements that enable the earth, and ultimately human beings, to exist. So, stars are life-giving.
The Story Unfolds: The story begins as a traveler wandering a barren desert finds the Dream Chest at the end of a rainbow. As the traveler opens the chest, a wise old star emerges to guide the traveler – and the reader – through a colorful journey of a lifetime. Pages 4-13 are at the level of the individual. The story then opens up to the level of humanity with a series of three full-page spreads (pages 14-19). It concludes by returning to the level of the individual (pages 20-27) within the context of "something bigger" (pages 28-31). The wise old star encourages both the traveler and the reader to pursue their own dreams.
Believe, Do, Think: This triad represents what author Susan Bosak calls the "core essence" of reaching for life dreams. It's based on social science research that has looked at how people achieve dreams and goals throughout their life. It has multiple meanings:
1) Pursuing a dream requires believing in it, acting upon it, and making strategic, thoughtful choices; 2) There must be a unity of spirit, body, and mind; 3) We need psychological and social qualities from all stages of life – childhood, young adulthood, and older adulthood – to succeed; 4) We also need to learn from the past (think), live fully in the present (do), and continue to build for the future (believe).
Hope: Robert Ingpen's striking illustration in the center of Dream featuring a bright central star shows hope overcoming fear. We can make the world a better place. All we need to do is dream.