Polly Dunbar

(Walker Books)

When Arthur wakes up one morning, he is desperate to share the amazing he has had Arthur has had  about a wonderfully coloured boat and he wants to tell his family about it. But no one, not even his dog, is interested in hearing about it. Will he be able to make them take a break from their busy noisy lives, and listen?

A beautiful picture book which celebrates the power of dreaming and the imagination, the story in Arthur’s Dream Boat is led mainly by Polly Dunbar’s beautifully coloured artwork, which uses pencil and watercolour. Dreaming is something that is quite difficult to put into words and instead, Dunbar chooses to perch the little boat on top of Arthur’s head, adding a new detail as Arthur enthusiastically talks about them. Whether the boat can actually be seen by Arthur’s family will be up to the little audiences to decide. Arthur’s enthusiasm is slowly tarnished by his family’s lack of interest and egocentric ways and his frustration brings him to shout out and get his family’s attention.  This is a turning point in the narrative, as the whole family becomes involved in Arthur’s dream and the line between reality and fantasy is well and truly blurred.

A truly Daliesque story, adorned with the most gorgeous whimsical illustrations, there are many alternative storylines and meanings to be found within the pages, and each reader will see something different in it. To me, Arthur’s Dream Boat is about allowing ourselves, despite our busy lives, our engrossment in social networking, our constant need for entertainment, to still be enchanted by the simple powers of dreaming and imagining.  It is also about letting children have a voice, and have them feeling isolated in our busy lives, or worse be engulfed in the worst of it. Let children be children, wackiness and all! And even better, loosen up and join the fun!

All illustrations © Polly Dunbar

Many thanks to Walker Books for sending me a review copy of “Arthur’s Dreamboat”.