Friday, August 21, 2015

Book Review: The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst

The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst is a terrific middle-grade fantasy novel about Sophie, a twelve-year-old girl, whose parents own a bookshop that sells much more than books. In the basement of the store is a secret dream shop, where dreams are bought and sold. When the store is robbed and her parents and two of her friends disappear, Sophie and her pet monster race against time to solve the mystery and rescue them.
I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC (from NetGalley) of this book, and I'm so happy I did. The story is a suspenseful adventure that takes the reader into the mysterious territory between fantasy and reality.
When the book opens, six-year-old Sophie steals a dream from an unmarked container. In the dream, she befriends a monster that resembles a furry badger with tentacles, big eyes, and sharp teeth. When she awakes, the monster from the story is in the room with her. She convinces her parents to let her keep it as a pet, and Monster becomes her best friend. This is when we learn that Sophie has the ability to bring elements from the dream world into the physical world. Sophie's ability to do this reminds me of the figs that can make dreams come true in The Sweetest Fig by Chris Van Allsburg. 
One of the things I love most about this book is The Dreamcatcher Bookshop. This bookstore would make any book nerd swoon! The author describes it as a "a labyrinth of ceiling-high bookshelves that were crammed with new and used books." The bookstore sold cupcakes from trays near the cash register. You could sit comfortably reading books and eating cupcakes on soft chairs or pillows in a window seat.

When the store is ransacked and the dreams stolen, you can really feel how scary and disturbing this intrusion is. I love that this book has excitement and suspense, but it's still appropriate for middle-grade children. There is some violence, but none of it is over-the-top. I would be comfortable having this in my classroom library.

I also like the imaginary friend aspect of this book. Monster turns out to be Sophie's best friend and protector. This book would pair well with a number of books with this same theme: Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate, The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat, and Marilyn's Monster by Michelle Knudsen.

This book is awesome and I believe that it will be popular with my fifth grade students.

The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst
Expected publication: November 3, 2015 by Clarion Books



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