Sunday, May 14, 2006

Review: Gossamer by Lois Lowry

Another title for Foster Care Month



Gossamer by Lois Lowry. Houghton Mifflin, 2006
(978-0-618-68550-9) $16.00

In the comfortable home of an elderly woman, a small dream-giver
known as Littlest One is learning her trade: how to collect the pieces
of memory attached to possessions and turn them into dreams...

    "With her gentlest touch, Little collected the child's petulant sulk, the woman's forgiving smile, a bib with an embroidered rabbit, and even the hand-painted flowers on a small blue plate. It would make a lovely dream, Littlest thought; she could combine it with the kitten she had collected from an old photograph, and perhaps some remembered music that she had found in the piano."

Meanwhile, something else of import is happening in that house: the arrival of John, a hostile, disturbed foster child. Although the woman is both nervous and somewhat naive--"What does an eight-year-old have to be angry about?" she wonders--she does her best to take care of John, helped, though of course she doesn't know it, by Littlest One and her teacher, who are trying to strengthen the boy with good dreams. Because a boy as wounded as this one is a prime target for the Sinisteed, dream-givers who have become consumed by bad memories and now inflict punishing nightmares.

Short and spare, Gossamer lives up to its title, working less as a chronicle of events than as a demonstration of the value of dreams and memories, especially for those who are weakened by life, such as John and his equally abused mother. The small, wonderful moments in life are treasures here: cozy, domestic weapons against fear. I love the potent vision of the creation of dreams as an artistic endeavor--"found art" at its most meaningful. (9 & up)


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