Dreams and Nighttime

by Librarians Hollis Stolz, Lauren Williams and Angela Scott
Originally published by Columbia Daily Tribune.

Summer means vacations, camps, a break from the school schedule and the chance to stay up late. We invite readers of all ages to celebrate nighttime and start off summer at the library with the 2012 Summer Reading program. Kids ages 5 to 12 will "Dream Big" while the younger children, through age 5, will be "Little Stars." Don't forget about the teens, ages 12 to 18, who will "Own the Night." We also have a Summer Reading program for adults. All programs begin June 1 and end Aug. 4. Here are some dreamy titles for your summer nights.

Dream Big, Little Pig

Dreams come in all sizes. In "Dream Big, Little Pig" (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2011) by Kristi Yamaguchi, Poppy is a pig with big plans. She wants to be a star and discovers that's not as easy as it sounds. It's only when Poppy starts ice skating that she truly believes in herself.

From longing for fame to longing for a new life, the picture book "All the Way to America" (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011) by Dan Yaccarino tells the story of four generations of his Italian-American family that begins with his grandfather arriving at Ellis Island. The immigrant came only with big dreams, a small shovel and good advice: "Work hard, but remember to enjoy life and never forget your family."

Not all dreams are good ones, and in Ross MacKenzie's "Zac and the Dream Stealers" (The Chicken House, to be released in June 2012), nightmares keep the whole world awake. One night, when the clock strikes 12, Zac is awakened from his bad dreams to be thrown into a strange, surreal land called Nocturne. Zac must take back the night and save Nocturne from the insomniacs.

The real-world night sky is the subject of "Black Holes and Supernovas" (Capstone Press, 2011) by Joan Marie Galat. Stars live for billions of years, and when they die, they leave behind black holes and supernovas. Galat's book gives elementary-age readers who dream of exploring space an up-close look at the stars and their spectacular deaths.

Everybody Sees the Ants

Dreams can be a form of escape. In "Everybody Sees the Ants" (Little, Brown, 2011) by A.S. King, 15-year-old Lucky Linderman is being bullied, and his parents are fighting constantly. The only way Lucky can cope is by dreaming of being with his grandfather, who went missing during the Vietnam War. During a visit to his aunt and uncle's home in Arizona, Lucky gets a new perspective on his problems.

With hard work and determination, a dream can become reality. The inspiring "A Girl Named Faithful Plum" (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011) by Richard Bernstein follows Zhongmei Lei, an 11-year-old girl from a country village who won a spot at the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy in 1977. Zhongmei, whose name means "faithful plum," went on to form her own dance company in New York when she was in her late 20s.

Remember when you were a kid and got into trouble for staying up late reading books by flashlight under the blankets? Revisit your youth by staying up as late as you want with your head "Between the Covers" — this year's Adult Summer Reading theme — of a great book. The library's shelves have plenty of thrilling reads to keep you up all night.

Books about the undead have been, well, done to death. How refreshing, then, to encounter "The Last Werewolf" (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011) by Glen Duncan. This elegantly written work of literary fiction follows a depressed 200-year-old werewolf named Jake who dreams of dying until he finds a surprising reason to live. Steamy, violent and gripping, this original take on a familiar topic will have you turning pages past bedtime.

Stay Awake

You'll be similarly haunted by Dan Chaon's collection of short stories appropriately titled "Stay Awake" (Ballantine Books, 2012). Chaon ("Await Your Reply," One Read author 2010) explores the dark corners of his characters' minds as they cope with and suffer through the aftermath of a variety of losses, from the death of a spouse to becoming unmoored from reality and sanity. These are bleak, sometimes creepy but expertly crafted tales.

Finally, in S.J. Watson's suspenseful and fast-paced "Before I Go to Sleep" (Harper, 2011), the night acts as an eraser for the mind of Christine Lucas, who suffers from amnesia. Each day, she wakes up next to a man who says he is her husband, but she must rely on his story of their life together and her own daily journal to piece together her identity and circumstances, which turn out to be even darker than they seem.

For more books related to dreams and nighttime, starting in June you can check out our Summer Reading displays at our library locations and online, where we'll recommend titles for kids (kids.dbrl.org), teens (teens.dbrl.org) and adults (next.dbrl.org).

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