HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Dream Coach
Author: Anne Parrish
Illustrator: Dillwyn Parrish
Publisher: Macmillan Pub. Co., 1924
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 4-8
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Parrish, Anne. The Dream Coach (published in 1924 by The Macmillan Company, New York City, NY). This children’s book by Anne Parrish, which was a Newbery Honor recipient in 1925, starts with a poem about a Dream Coach, a magical coach that carries dreams to all the children of the world, and continues with four fairytale-like stories linked by the theme of the Dream Coach. The stories are probably best suited for reading to children at bedtime, but each one does have a subtle lesson in it. In “The Seven White Dreams of the King’s Daughter,” a lonely princess has a rather dull fifth birthday so the angels decide to give her some special dreams; it spends a lot of time talking about getting dressed and dreaming. “Goran’s Dream,” about a boy who dreams of a visiting queen and his snowman who almost melts, contains some interesting information about Norway. In “A Bird Cage With Tassels of Purple and Pearls (Three Dreams of a Little Chinese Emperor),” with similar information of interest about China, a boy emperor is taught about the bird that he keeps in a cage. And “’King’ Philippe’s Dream” is about a boy who dreams that his relatives are elements of nature (rain, wind, etc.) and that nature is designed to serve humans.
Some people don’t like this book. One person complained of “the strong Christian undertones.” I don’t know if this refers generally to the morals embedded in the tales or specifically to the presence of church officials and activities in the first story. Also, the author is accused of purple prose (prose text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself), but like beauty this is something primarily in the eye of the beholder. One of the biggest objections is that the book suffers from 1920s racism or at least is very culturally insensitive. As someone explained it, “although The Dream Coach doesn’t come right out and say racist things (and one of the main characters is, in fact, not white), it’s filled with the kind of stereotypes that make modern readers uncomfortable.” My experience is that usually the “modern readers” who find books like this (or Tom Sawyer) “uncomfortable” are heavily into political correctness. Though The Dream Coach may seem old fashioned to some and does lack any sort of conclusion, it has moments of cuteness, and many kids will still find it fun reading. Author Anne Parrish was a three-time Newbery Honor winner.