Friday, April 19, 2013

Nocturne: Dream Recipes by Isol - Perfect Picture Book Friday

    First, a note: If you missed my blog post on Tuesday, you have until May 5 to leave a comment on that post to enter the BOOK GIVEAWAY for Debbie Dadey's newest book in her Mermaid Tales series with Simon & Schuster. 
Don't you want to know what role the vampire squids play?

    Now, on to today's "business." Is it possible to be speechless and still write a blogpost?
     Wow! I am in love.
     Don’t worry, my husband knows about my obsession with books. 
     To back up, a few weeks ago I saw that an Argentinian author/illustrator I wasn’t familiar with had won the Astrid Lindgren MemorialAward. This award, established in 2002 and presented by the Swedish government, comes with a cash prize, equivalent this year to $770,000! Maurice Sendak was one of the prior award winners. The 2013 award winner’s name? Isol.
(If you want to see a photo of Isol, click here for the Reuters article announcing the prize winner. I couldn’t find any images of her in the public domain.)
     I had to learn more.
     My library didn’t have any of Isol’s books. The internet was my next stop. I ordered, and waited---and it was more than worth it! 

Title: Nocturne: Dream Recipes

Author: Isol  (Elisa Amado, translator)- Note: her website is NOT in English
Illustrator: Isol

Audience: ages 4 and up 

Themes: Dreams, imagination, sleep

Opening and Synopsis: I can’t start with the words. The structure of the book itself blew me away. Look at the photo! You don't see this in the image on Amazon. Instead of being bound down the side in traditional book fashion, Nocturne has vertical spiral bound pages. As the subtitle hints, the book is organized like a cookbook.  Ahead of the title page are musings about the nature of dreams, then following the title are step-by-step instructions to follow each night for a new dream. Eleven pages of dream prompts follow. And what's the icing on the cake?
     The pages are simple drawings, in muted colors, with a single line of text such as the "Dream of being another." Big deal, right? Ah-h, but the point of the book is that dreams are part of the world usually unseen. So, Isol has made drawings in glow-in-the-dark paint that are only visible after you prop the book under a bright light and then head to the dark. 

     Remember I said I was blown away by the structure of the book? The back cover is actually TWO layers accordion hinged together so the book can be stood up bedside to inspire little dreamers. Note: some of the hidden pictures are meant to inspire creative thought, not necessarily prompt peaceful sleep. It all depends on how your little one feels about the suggestion that wild animals may be watching while he/she sleeps.
Kirkus didn't like the book for little ones. feeling the sparse inspiration was more suited for ages 10-14. I'm not with them on that. I think younger elementary school age kids would enjoy the novelty and creative fun. My book is new, so if the glow-in-the-dark paint doesn't hold up, I'll let you know!

   Finally, the opening words: 
     "There are many kinds of dreams:
     adventurous dreams, dreams with ridiculous scenes, dreams in which nothing happens, 
     confusing dreams, dreams about people we've recently seen, dreams in other languages, 
     dreams we can't remember...

Activities: Publisher's Weekly will tell you the text of a few more of the prompts that I didn't want to "give away." The book itself is an activity--the last page of the book is one for kids to draw themselves. Make a dreamcatcher. Talk about good and bad dreams. Older kids may want to start a dream journal. All ages can draw a dream they remember. Try drawing in the dark, with only the light of a flashlight. Craft and hardware stores have non-toxic glow-in-the-dark paints suitable for use with kids. Maybe you want to create your own flip pages, or a mural size glow-in-the-dark masterpiece!

  And yes, I have another Isol book waiting in the wings for its review! How did I miss these before? (too many books, too little time...!)

This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books.


  1. Wendy, what a very unusual book. I think that it is a book you could use with other kids. Kids are curious about their dreams and the activities you suggested may inspire them to draw out scart, funny, happy dreams. And, it is a great way to get older kids to write their dreams and become more aware of their inner world. I really would enjoy seeing this book! Thanks for sharing.

    1. The one drawback I see is that the size and format don't make it easy for a library to shelve.

  2. How very original, Wendy. I'll have take a look. I'm curious to see if my kids would like it, fussy beans ;)

    1. It doesn't have a lot on each page since you are supposed to "imagine" your own stories.

  3. WOW! fabulous, unusual, inspirational. Great find, Wendy!

    1. I like the reminder that night time isn't just for falling into bed, exhausted. Dream time can be rich and rejuvenating.

  4. Cool! So gonna look for this! I like the idea of inspiring creative thoughts to send you off to sleep

  5. Wow, this looks like an amazing book. It really reminds me of some scrapbook/photo albums I have. I know my eldest would love to record his dreams in the back.

  6. Amazing find Wendy! I am such a dreamer, this would be perfect for
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Thanks for an awesome review of what looks like an amazing book, Wendy! I love that the book is spiral, opens differently, has glow in the dark print, and encourages imagination. Dreams are something we often neglect to discuss with kids...except if they have had a nightmare. :)