Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 10/01/2014 Gr 4–6—Jim lies sick in the hospital, afraid that he won't survive his upcoming operation. Nurse Bami assures him that everyone has a "finder" to guide them through their dreams and that Jim's finder will bring him back from wherever the doctors send him. That night, Jim dreams of a lion; he has met his guide. This is a spare allegory, and Deacon's illustrations complement and extend the brief text. Many of his images offer additional layers to the narrative, depicting dreams that are not mentioned by the author and giving readers a clue about Nurse Bami's own finder. A 2001 version of this story (Candlewick) features detailed, realistic pencil and pastel illustrations by Ian Andrew. Unlike Andrews' gentle interpretation, Deacon's lion is powerful and frightening, and the watercolor illustrations depict an uncertain world with shaky lines and a muted palette spiked with increasing amounts of blood red. The art highlights the feverish terror of Jim's dreams, in which pipes morph into snakes, rain falls as blood, and tree roots become multitudes of grasping arms, as red as pumping veins. The enemy is always shifting and adapting, and Deacon's sophisticated art does not hide the fact that Jim is very close to dying. The unique story and remarkable art warrant this a place in library collections, though it's difficult to pinpoint the audience. The content may be upsetting for young readers, but seem childish for older children and teens. This graphic novel-style work will best fit in middle grade collections, and may even appeal to parents.—Lisa Goldstein, Brooklyn Public Library - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 01/01/2015 The menacing lion on the cover of this title is no more comforting than Jim’s prospects; faced with a life-threatening illness, Jim, like his his parents, is prepared for the worst. Jim’s African nurse, Bami, shares with him the secret that one of the animals that visits him in his dreams is his “finder,” the one who can bring him back if he gets lost during his operation. The animal needs to be as fierce as the disease itself, so Bami gives Jim a “don’t-run” stone to help him be brave enough to meet his protector. Originally published as a picture book in 2001, the text gets an expanded visual treatment here with more immersive art that involves graphic novel-type panels (though text remains largely independent), and it develops Jim’s plight in more detail, vividly depicting his dreams. With the exception of some humor in the sequence where Jim auditions animals for the role of finder, the dream sequences are, in a word, terrifying, which seems appropriate given the terrors of being critically ill and facing an operation that one may not survive. The dream Jim has during the operation is perhaps the most frightening of all, as both Jim and his magnificent lion are attacked by aggressive, nondescript but vaguely organic shapes, and each gets lost in a blood-hued sea. The intensity of the imagery calls to mind the respect afforded to children’s emotional capacities found in Shaun Tan’s “The Red Tree” (in Lost and Found, BCCB 5/11). While not for the timid, this may be just what the doctor ordered for children with vivid imaginations facing their own traumatic ordeals. KC - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.