Gloria's Dream
by Adriana Pernetz
BookVenture Publishing LLC

"’A prayer is an act of love,’ said the moon lovingly."

One night, in the cozy sleeping community of a barnful of animals, a goat awakens from a troubled sleep and announces, with great dismay, that his dreams have been stolen. The peaceful nighttime scene he usually enjoys has been replaced with frightening and unfamiliar imagery of receiving a medical injection in a doctor’s office. His friend the pig, who is the resident wise man in their community, takes the troubled goat with him on a windswept journey to the moon, whereupon they learn that, unbeknownst to the goat, his dream was swapped with that of a sick little girl, whose subsequent peaceful slumber is a moving sight to behold.

This story of prayer, altruism, and sharing has much to say to children. Through animal vessels, it suggests that something of value can and should be given away to someone else if it can help them. This plug for sharing and caring is deepened by the lesson that even if the original owner misses the item, the giver will reap considerable satisfaction from the improved circumstance of the receiver. That the gifted item here is a dream adds some whimsy and wonder to the story, yet the message is as sound as if tangible items like toys or clothes were being shared between haves and have-nots.

These are complex and multi-layered concepts that have the potential to engage children on a number of levels. First, there is the provocative and creative idea that a dream can be stolen. Next are more magical elements, with a wizardly pig who can summon wind and moon powers at his simple verbal command and the moon as the ultimate cosmic power player. Finally, the story lands an empathetic punch with a sick girl and the animals who want to heal her, reminding kids that sharing something of value can serve the greater good. That’s a lot for young minds to follow and absorb.

Consistent with the advanced ideas at play, the book’s language is sophisticated too. Words like “profound” and “revolting” demand far more from readers than typical picture book fare. Talk of prayer as an act of love and other profundities introduce concepts and vocabulary in a sophisticated and somber way that certainly may spark awareness and learning in young readers. The story’s focus on altruistic deeds by animals is reminiscent of the classic modern children’s book The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. This story of a beautiful fish that gives away its prized, sparkly scales to bring joy to other fish is beloved by children and used widely to introduce ideas of sharing and generosity. Yet the story of that generous fish is not without controversy among grownups, some of whom suggest the book’s focus on altruism actually promotes a political agenda of wealth redistribution and collectivism. That’s a heavy burden to lay on a kid’s book about animals helping others. However, despite the possibility of any deeper theme within it, Pernetz's book effectively enlightens and challenges readers to embrace hefty concepts that, although delivered by cute, cuddly creatures, are still valuable life lessons.

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