Published: April 2010
Hardcover, 384 pages
Much to his father’s disappointment, Neftalí is not like other children. Frail and painfully shy, he spends most of his time alone: collecting treasures, reading, writing, and daydreaming. While his father plans to build him into a robust doctor, Neftalí has other longings stirring inside him. The natural world in his native Chile and the painful injustices he witnesses there move him equally. How Neftalí reconciles his own dreams with his father’s is at the heart of this inspiring, radiant, and profoundly moving story of self-discovery.
I have just discovered a talented author—Pam Munoz Ryan. Her simple yet powerful way of conveying the story about Neftalí, a young uncommon boy who sees the world in a unique and magical way, touched me deeply. Based on the biography of Pablo Neruda, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, this book is inspiring. I thoroughly enjoyed Ryan’s beautiful poetic writing that stirred my imagination to the point where I was soaring with Neftalí in the blue sky, running with him in the lush Chilean forest, feeling the mist of the tangy seawater on my face, and smelling the earthy scent of the outdoors after a summer rainfall.
Neftalí, a child who is a poet and humanitarian at heart, gentle and kind, but sickly thin and shy has to suffer the cruel ridicule of his authoritarian father who wants to break his soft spirit and make a strong man out of him. Fortunately, he has a loving stepmother and an Uncle who unwittingly feeds his eager soul, and he grows to become a determined influential writer with no ill will toward his father.
I loved this character. He reminded me in so many ways of my own son. His strength of character and determination to nurture his love for words and to use his gift for the good of mankind is inspirational. Ryan ends each chapter with a thought-provoking question such as, What wisdom does the eagle whisper to those who are learning to fly? These string of words left so innocently on a page with a black and white illustration reflected what the chapter itself conveyed and always left me thinking hard.
My only regret is that I did not read this book together with my 9 year-old daughter to get her impressions and to share with her this touching and stirring tale.
Disclosure: Thank you to Nikole from Scholastic Canada for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.