Just a Dream by Chris Van Allsburg

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Stars: *****

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Originally 1990, Updated 2011)
Picture Book
48 pages

Summary: When it comes to the environment, young Walter is not an enlightened individual. He’s a litterbug who believes sorting trash is a big waste of time. What’s more, he thinks his friend’s birthday present, a tree, is the most ridiculous gift he’s ever seen. Walter believes the future is going to be wonderful, filled with robots and other amazing inventions. One night while lying in bed, Walter wishes he could visit the future. He falls asleep and his wish comes true. But the world Walter sees is not exactly what he’d imagined. When he returns to the present, he is changed and so are his dreams.  – from author’s website

This is a great book for Earth Day or anytime you want to teach about environmentalism. Although it’s an older book, I’d not seen it. It’s by the author of The Polar Express and Jumanji (and many others,) so you know the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous.

The little boy’s dreams show just how scary our world could end up the way we are going. He pops in and out of different dreams, showing many different scenarios. At the end he learns his lesson and pitches in and his dream that night is quite different.

I was a little surprised at first with the “ideal world” dream as it shows a return to simpler days with no clothes dryers or electric lawn mowers but I quickly realized that we would have to limit our energy usage in order to reverse the poor environment our children can look forward to (or not) in the future. It makes sense to me!

I read this to my 4 and 5 year old but it was over their head. I tried to explain as much as possible and I think the got a bit of it but it was too long and involved. I’m not sure the target age range but I’d say 8+

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.