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on 16 December 1998
Ian McEwan's vision is usually dark and uncomfortable although true to his subject. In The Daydreamer a brighter light is shining. The main character is a young boy who daydreams. His fantasies are the adventures in this book. In them McEwan tenderly deals with ideas of being someone else, of changing beyond recognition - of growing up. The stories all have depth and are amusing and well told. Many have a lingering sadness, as when Peter changes bodies with the cat for a day before it dies. There is always hope though and death is just another adventure. McEwan's goal was to produce a book that children and adults would enjoy and he has done so. The Daydreamer is a perfect book for sharing and discussing and has contain ideas for both adults and children to ponder.
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on 12 July 1999
This book is like the creepy stories you find in Roald Dahl's 'Kiss, Kiss', or 'Tales of the Unexpected'. My favourite is the story of the Bad Doll, as you leave it wondering who is the doll, and who is the boy. Every story is weird, and every story leaves you wondering whether it really happened.
I think this book is good for readers aged 9-13. However, some of it can be a bit babyish - the bit about Gwen and teddy bears is a bit much for the kids aged 13, and a bit yucky really. So give the last chapter a miss! But older kids will read it because it's disturbing, surreal and weird, all the same.
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on 23 December 2000
I read this one whilst downloading old music from my childhood days and had a lovely trip back in time, almost drifting off to the rainy English days spent at home reading Roal Dahl on my bed as a child. The storytelling style reminded me a lot of Dahl, and coming from a self confessed childhood Dahl obsessive, that's a pretty major compliment. The stories are short, slightly twisted, and reminded me exactly what it was I so enjoyed about reading back then. This is one book I'll be popping the post to my ten year old godson.
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on 3 March 2011
This could be a collection of short stories but each story is called a chapter and tells about Peter. In the first half of the novel Peter is a ten-year-old schoolboy and in seven 'chapters' or 'stories' we follow him from his childhood to adulthood. The border between stories and novel is blurred away. It's meant to be read by adults and children alike.

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.
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on 24 March 2000
Recently in English at my school we have been reading this book, we have discussed the many ways you can read it, whether you are a young child or an adult, we all agreed it explains many ways of life but in fun interesting way, depending in the way you look at the book. Many of us (12 year olds) were put off by the front cover but by the time we had read the first few pages the book had drawn us into it, and we were longing after the lesson to read on, some of us did.
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on 8 November 2001
I think it's easy to characterise this as a children's book- I first read it when I was about 12 or so, and I'm 18 now and I still love it. It is the perfect book to dip into when you want ten minutes of just relaxing... it is very, very strange, but totally absorbing. As it is a book that appeals to children, it has moments of very sweet humour and really reflects the innocent mindset of children, but at the same time it is very dark.
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on 8 May 2011
I read this book for a book club, where we had to read anything by Ian McEwan. I'd heard his novels were "heavy" and so far we'd read pretty dreary novels in the book club, but I read that this particular book was "funnier than Rohl Dahl. (Sorry If I misspelled that!). I am also a teacher of children so I thought it would be an interesting book. Well I found this book to be DELIGHTFUL! It's about a boy whose imagination takes him into very interesting situations that are as real to him as breathing. He learns a lot from his imaginations, mostly about empathy. It really showed me how some kids do think, and how they do learn. It had a cute sense of humour and was a quick read. It's the kind of book you would gladly pull out a chapter and reread it just to put yourself in a good mood. As a grandmother I loved the description of the main character being his cousin, a baby. I also liked the description of him being his old cat. The standing up to the bully chapter (which seems compulsory in these sorts of books) was also great, and worth reading to all bullied kids. Highly recommended to adults, not just kids!
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on 23 December 2013
This is a cleverly structured collection of a child's experiences - narrated with a great child's voice. It really gets into the head of a child and we see life through Peter's perspectives, which are not that usual!

Delightful read.
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on 13 April 2013
A beautifully written series of stories by Ian McEwan, told from the point of view of a young boy who daydreams he's transported into the bodies of other people and animals. Too good to keep to yourself - I had to share with several people!
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on 6 March 2013
The idea of a daydream growing in the main character Peter's mind until it "begins to live a life of its own" is one which can catch both children and adults unaware and I have to confess that, as an avid daydreamer and an adult, I find this rooted in experience. Reality morphs into dream and dream to fantasy but of a kind refreshing in its departure from the so called Fantasy genre. Real life is put on the back burner as dreamlike events take their own course in Peter's experience of incidents - some wonderfully distorted - in this unique journey through from childhood to adult.
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