Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Dream Coach, by Anne and Dillwyn Parrish

When I saw this one in the list I had no idea what to expect. I initially expected it to be a baseball book (and I also expected quite a bit of trouble getting my hands on it, since there are only about 50 copies in WorldCat, and it hasn't been digitized in Project Gutenburg). So imagine my surprise on both counts when the Simmons College library was willing to ILL it to me, and it was really about a coach-and-horses coach!

This coach is the kind that brings dreams to everyone in the world. Every day his driver packs it full of all sorts of dreams to carry about to people who need them (and, like Santa Claus, he uses them to dispense a bit of justice to the naughty and nice of the world). Spending much of his time in the heavens as he does, he's also in frequent communication with the angels, who assist him in selecting dreams for certain children who are especially noteworthy.

After the initial introduction of the coach and its purpose, the chapters focus on the dreams of four children. The first is a princess who has just had her fifth birthday. She has been paraded about in uncomfortable clothes, made to eat bland and unappetizing foods (as all of the best ones have been saved for the celebration), given some valuable but boring gifts of treasure from her parents (which are immediately locked away for safekeeping), and then shuffled off for an early bedtime so that everyone else can celebrate without a child in the way. Needless to say, a very disappointing day for a five-year-old princess! So she is given seven (well, six, since the last dream goes missing) nights of charming and happy dreams to make up for it all.

The second child we meet is Goran, a little Norwegian boy. He has been left all alone while his grandmother has gone to town to pick up supplies before the winter snows isolate them. Since he is a bit frightened to be home alone, the dream coach sends him a very funny dream. All of the animals and flowers in the house come to life and begin to speak, the Queen of Clubs from his playing card starts taking charge, and everyone feels sorry for Goran's snowman, left outside in the cold all alone. The Queen soon orders him to be brought inside, but he begins to melt. No one listens to his pleas, and he is brought near the fire, and eventually put into bed below warm covers. However, his kind mouth falls out of his melting face, and when it is replaced upside down, the angry-looking snowman quickly reasserts himself and is moved outside where he belongs!

The third child we meet is a little Chinese Emperor. One day when he is very bored, he becomes enchanted with the singing of a little brown bird and demands that it be captured so that he can enjoy it inside his own home. The bird becomes despondent and stops singing, and is soon forgotten. To right this wrong, the coach sends the Emperor a dream that he wakes up in a cage watched by giant birds who criticize his voice, pull on his queue, and suggest wringing his neck for supper. He manages to escape but is far from home in winter and cannot survive alone. When the Emperor awakes, he rushes to his bird with fresh greenery and assures him that as soon as the weather is warm again, he will be released.

And our final child, Philippe, is a little French boy who is visiting his grandparents at their home. His younger cousin Avril is also there, and they are waiting for his Uncle, Pablot, to return to tell them all about his journeys abroad. As he waits, the children play that Philippe is the King, and Avril is a servant charged with bringing him whatever he desires, lest she lose her head. After Pablot arrives, he gives each child a gift (a whistle and a decorated garden spade) and describes the exciting things he saw in various exotic countries. Philippe quickly grows tired after a dense supper, though, and the dream coach brings him a dream in which his grandmother is really the bringer of rain, his grandfather the bringer of snow, his uncle the wind, and his cousin the bringer of flowers. It appears that Philippe really is a king, and his subjects' best reward is to be used and appreciated well.

This book was very short- only 142 pages. It was also cute and charming, but I've read so many books of this type that it hardly seems unique. It also lacked any sort of conclusion; I expected it to come back to the coach at the end as the driver winds up his busy night. But we end with Philippe being carried back to his parents' home, fast asleep. Cute, short, but not exemplary.

No comments:

Post a Comment