Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stories' Magical Elements Help Stir Children's Imaginations Flights of Fantasy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stories' Magical Elements Help Stir Children's Imaginations Flights of Fantasy

Article excerpt

There are giant bean stalks that grow overnight, pumpkins that turn into carriages and princesses who sleep for 100 years.

Who wouldn't be intrigued? Children's fascination with magical elements in stories make fairy tales timeless favorites. Supernatural elements are as fascinating to young readers as Phantom Menace's special effects are to sci-fi fans.

Totally unrealistic elements in stories, such as mice turning into coachmen, can stimulate imaginations. So can weird twists on everyday life. Take today's first book, for example. In The Dream Collector, an ordinary boy named Zachary wakes up early and discovers two zebras drinking from the birdbath on his lawn. Why? Because the Dream Collector has a broken-down truck and can't do his job of gathering everyone's dreams before dawn.

Such a blend of realism and fantasy delights children because even after they sort out what's real and what isn't, the familiar elements of the book make the outlandish parts of the story seem slightly possible and irresistible.

Title: Dream Collector Author/illustrator: Troon Harrison/Alan and Lea Daniel Publisher: Kids Can Press Price: $15.95

Ages: 6 to 10

When Zachary wakes up and discovers zebras and a shaggy dog in his yard, he runs outside to investigate. At the end of his driveway he sees a dusty truck. A man is tinkering under its hood trying to get the truck started. "Dream Collector: Streets Clear by Dawn," a sign on the truck says.

The Dream Collector tells Zachary that according to city regulations, all dreams must be collected early because once sunlight touches them, the dreams stay real.

At that moment, two pirates strolled down the driveway.

"Were they someone's dream?" asked Zachary. "Yes," replied the Dream Collector as he poked his head back under the hood.

Zachary heard him mutter something about piston rings. "Is your truck broken down?" he asked.

"It is. It won't start and I've forgotten my toolbox." The Dream Collector sounded worried.

While the man tries to fix the truck with tools from Zachary's garage, Zachary helps by loading the dreams into the truck. Carrots and a lasso do the trick for zebras. …

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