Dream On Amber
Sourcebooks / Raincoast Books
By Emma Shevah, illustrated by Helen Crawford-White
Synopsis from Raincoast Books:
As a half-Japanese, half-Italian girl with a ridiculous name, Amber’s not feeling molto bene (very good) about making friends at her new school. But the hardest thing about being Amber is that a part of her is missing. Her dad. He left when she was little and he isn’t coming back. Not for her first day of middle school and not for her little sister’s birthday. So Amber will have to dream up a way for the Miyamoto sisters to make it on their own…
Transitions can be hard. Moving into a new school, making new friends, hoping to fit in, these are the stresses that fill Amber’s mind as she prepares to enter middle school. Along with this angst in Dream On Amber, Amber is feeling the gap in her life created by her dad who left when she was young, emphasized by her younger sister’s own feelings.
Adolescence is hard on kids, add to that the feeling of not fitting in and feeling unworthy. Why else would Amber’s dad have left if it wasn’t because she wasn’t good enough? These are feelings Amber struggles with, all compounded into the form of a dark monster that lives under her bed. Young readers will empathize with Amber’s struggle and how she makes an effort to control her own destiny.
“No one can make you feel bad about yourself unless you let them.”
I also enjoyed that Dream On Amber doesn’t consist of a standard family unit. Instead Amber lives with her mom and younger sister, with emotional support offered by their nonna who lives down the street. Whether a young reader is living in a similar situation or not, it reminds all readers that there are different family dynamics in existence. It touches on some of the feelings associated with missing a parent for financial, emotional and physical support. I like the conclusion Amber makes, just being who she is and friendship and happiness will follow; it’s a message that will resonate with many young kids.