Susana misses her good friend Consuelo Louisa, who has moved from their small Mexican village up to Guadalajara, so when a dream she has about Consuelo Louisa is suddenly snatched away, Susana is upset. When she discovers that the culprit is an odd polka-dotted birdlike creature called the Dream Stealer, she lays a trap for him and demands that he give her dream back.
This leads to a flight to the Dream Stealer’s strange and distant castle, where dreams float about looking like fireflies and creatures from nightmares are locked up in dungeons. Susana saves the Dream Stealer from a terrible fate when the nightmare creatures escape, and by the time the Dream Stealer has dropped her back off in her village, she has realized that she doesn’t need her dream after all and that she has made a new polka-dotted friend.
At 96 pages, this is a slim fairy-tale adventure that would make a wonderful read-aloud or a non-demanding read-alone for a child who has graduated some time ago from easy readers and can tackle words like “manacles” and “mesquite.” Susana is a plucky heroine and the Dream Stealer, who is at first rather grumpy (he has the tendency to say “bosh” with great impatience), redeems himself with his kindness toward Susana and his eventual bravery. Like a fairy tale, much is left unexplained – where did the Dream Stealer come from, where did he get his castle, and why does he take dreams? – but it doesn’t matter. The reader will go where this tale leads him or her, as a sleeper follows a good dream, with pleasure and acceptance.
The illustrations by Peter Sis were not available in my ARC, but if they are like the cover art, they’ll make a fine companion to this adventure.
For readers ages 8 to 10 and as a read-aloud for ages 6 and up.