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The Daydreamer (Red Fox Older Fiction) Paperback – 7 Sep 1995
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"A brilliant book - wonderful" (TES)
"A classic" (Financial Times)
"Exhilarating - briliant" (Independent)
"Clear and vivid prose . . . Read these aloud to your children and be unsettled by them" (Katie Law Evening Standard)
"This is a book that could be read at several levels. The dreams can be taken at face-value, but they also reveal themes that more astute readers might recognise . . . A good read" (Writeaway!)
Illustrated by Anthony Browne, The Daydreamer takes the reader out of reality and into the dream world of 10 year old Peter Fortune.See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
The daydreamer is Peter Fortune, an imaginative 10 year old boy who grows up to be an inventor, whose daydreams are so vivid that he lives them. In the seven stories in this book, he gets attacked by the dolls in his sister's room that he has always found a bit sinister, he makes his family disappear using vanishing cream, disarms the school bully with some well-chosen words, attempts to catch a burglar, changes body with the old family cat and his baby cousin, and one morning on a summer holiday, wakes to find that he has become a young adult and experiences love for the first time. Peter learns and gains empathy from each of these experiences - before becoming a baby, he despised his cousin; shortly before becoming a young adult, he was feeling sad knowing that his exciting childhood would end, all adults seemed to do on holidays was go for walks, read the newspaper and talk.
These stories are entertaining, quirky, and can indeed be enjoyed by children and adults. I've just lent my copy to a non-native English speaker and plan to buy a copy for my niece's 9th birthday.
Peter is called a daydreamer. I'm not a psychologist but this sounds like an understatement. After the title page Ian McEwan gives a fragment of the Metamorphoses by Ovid: "My purpose is to tell of bodies which have been transformed into shapes of a different kind." The 'daydream' once it gets in Peter's mind begins to live a life of its own. Real life doesn't matter anymore or better, real life ceases to exist. This can lead to unpleasant surprises. For instance: he sits on the bus to school with his younger seven-year-old sister and his parents insisted that he watched her closely. But he forgets all about her during a daydream. When he wakes up his sister is nowhere to be seen...
There are seven chapters and each chapter consists of a daydream that illustrates his coming of age from a schoolboy to an adult.
When I said earlier that 'daydreamer' was an understatement I meant that the imaginary shifts into reality without you being aware of it at the beginning. A daydreamer knows it's a daydream, Peter thinks it's reality. His 'daydreams' are almost delusional. Gradually the 'daydream' becomes reality and the borderline between the two disappears. Peter doesn't want the daydream, the daydream wants Peter.
To give an example: in the second chapter Peter comes home after school. He sits on the sofa and William the old cat jumps on his lap. Peter begins to tickle William. Purring, William turns on his back. He touches Peter's hand and leads it to his chin. When Peter starts tickling the cat under his chin he feels something strange in the fur of the cat. When he examines it, it turns out to be the beginning of a zipper to open not only the fur but also the skin of William. What follows will baffle you.
As you're reading this you know it's a fantasy but when does it start? For all we know William the cat doesn't exist or Peter is still in school dreaming during a lesson.
It's obvious that Ian McEwan writes about human imagination. Where are its limits? Are we able to see the borderline between reality and imagination? Does that borderline exists to begin with?
"The Daydreamer" is an astonishing praise of human imagination and what it's capable of. Don't make the mistake to think that this book was written for children.