Gossamer [book review]

Lois Lowry
Gossamer
144 pages
Hougton Mifflin, 2006

Story: Dream makers help people by creating dreams made out of fragments of their lives. One little boy named John and his mother need good dreams because of their difficult lives. The giving of dreams is called the bestowal and the story takes us through this nightly process as events in the real world are unfolding. They try to help the little boy who comes to stay with an older woman who has no other company besides her dog. Littlest One learns a lot about humans and wants to know what kind of creature she is.

Main Character: Littlest One who is called Littlest for short. Littlest is in training to become a dream maker and is taught by others like her who give dreams to humans and sometimes animals. She receives the name Gossamer after her training is complete, for her gossamer touch.

Audience: This story would work well for those who like fantasy but there is also a great deal of the story that is rooted in family life. This book examines family and how things we experience in life follow us after we go to sleep.

Comments: There is a great connection between memories and dreams in the story. The dream makers collect fragments of a person’s life in order to create dreams, there are also creatures that wish to do harm to sleeping humans, this story is a wonderful and fun way to explain dreams!
On the other side of the story a dream giver who delves too deeply into the fragments of memories becomes a Sinisteed, a terrible creature who inflicts nightmares.

Discussion Questions:
#1 Collect your own fragments from life (photos, small mementos, letters) and switch with another person. Try to create a “dream” out of their life. This is a great creative writing exercise and can be expanded by having students create a short story that includes the fragments.
#2 Talk about where dreams were thought to come from historically and how people today believe they should be interpreted. Bring in a “dream dictionary” if students are interested in imagery and symbolism in dreams.
#3 Introduce students to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan,” which was supposed to have come to Coleridge in a dream and ask them if it would be possible to remember something so detailed from a dream. Ask them to attempt to create a poem or story in their dreams and write it out for class, see what everyone comes up with!
#4 Discuss Lowry’s other works and how Gossamer does or does not fit in with other titles such as The Giver.
#5 Discuss themes in the story (child abuse, broken homes and dysfunctional families)

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