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Un tiempo perfecto para soñar

by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
illustrated by Esau Andrade Valencia
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Winter 2008-09 Kids' Indie Next List
Tejas Star Book Award
Paterson Prize
Best Book for Children, Texas Institute of Letters (TIL)
Bank Street’s Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2009
Américas Book Award Honor Book
An old man tells his granddaughter about the nine most beautiful dreams of his lifetime.

Product Details

10-digit ISBN1-933693-01-0
13-digit ISBN9781933693019
LanguageBilingual - English & Spanish
Also Available InPaperback
Page Count40
Product Dimensions8.5" x 11"
Publication DateOctober 1, 2008
Starred Review5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars - see reviews
RightsAll Rights Available
"As a boy, I always hoped that when we broke the piñata at a party, that all sorts of beautiful things would come flying out. Nothing every came out but candy. I suppose I wrote this book to set the world right."

An old man tells his granddaughter about the nine most beautiful dreams of his lifetime.

So, what exactly is the perfect season for dreaming?

For Octavia Rivera, it’s summer, when the sky is so blue and a few lovely clouds come floating along to decorate it.

It turns out that Octavio Rivera is a beautiful dreamer. And on these first long days of summer, he is visited by some very interesting dreams. But Octavio doesn’t tell anyone about his dreams, not after the first one, not after the second, not after the next or the next or the next.

Finally, though, he can’t stand it anymore and he wants to tell someone so bad that his heart hurts. He decides that the only one he can trust with his dreams, the only one who won’t make fun of him for being too old or eating too much chorizo, the only one who will understand is his young granddaughter Regina because she also has beautiful and fantastic dreams.

And that sets Octavio Rivera free to enjoy one last long and lovely dream.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz—novelist, poet, essayist, and writer of children’s books—is at the forefront of the emerging Latino literatures. He has received both the Wallace Stegner Fellowship and the Lannan Fellowship, and is a recipient of the American Book Award. Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood, his young adult novel, received the Americas Award in 2005, and was named one of the Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults in 2005. Born Mexican American Catholic in the rural community of Picacho, New Mexico, he now teaches at the University of Texas at El Paso, and considers himself a “fronterizo,” a person of the border.

Born in Mexico, Esau Andrade Valencia comes from a family of folk artists. Although still young, he is increasingly recognized as a master artist in the tradition of the great painters such as Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo, in whose footsteps he follows. Esau's paintings are included in the collection of The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach as well as in the Downey Museum of Art in California.
Publishers Weekly 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
*STARRED REVIEW* Sáenz's (He Forgot to Say Goodbye) haunting work, presented in English and Spanish, is part short story, part fable. Octavio Rivera, an elegant, white-haired grandfather, experiences an astonishing series of dreams that grow more complex each night: “...five coyotes dressed in mariachi outfits [were] falling out of a piñata and the coyotes were escaping from Tencha's Café on Alameda....” Valencia gives these visions an odd and wonderful dignity; his folk art illustrations lie somewhere between Frida Kahlo and Grant Wood.

Octavio longs to share his dreams, but can't tell anyone—“My best friend Joe would tell me that I had indigestion and that I should stay away from eating gorditas”—then realizes that his beloved six-year-old granddaughter will understand. “You are the most beautiful dreamer in the world, Tata Tabo!” she exclaims. Children who require stories with defined contours may find the flood of images off-putting; others will respond to Sáenz's elemental warmth and rhythmic storytelling. Ages 6–10. (Sept.)
- July 28, 2008 
Kirkus Reviews 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
*STARRED REVIEW* One cloudless summer, 78-year-old Octavio Rivera’s afternoon naps lead to a series of fantastical dreams. On the first day of the season, a single guitar “whispering songs of love” bursts through a star-shaped piñata, and on the second day, two kissing turtles float across a blue sky. With each passing day, the items delivered by the piñata grow in both number and whimsy; as his dreams surround and fill him up, Octavio feels a growing need to share his dreams; but with whom?

Sáenz’s treatment of reality and his rich, sensory-filled imagery evokes García Márquez, while Andrade Valencia’s illustrations, done in a brilliant southwestern palette, employ flat perspectives and surrealist compositions to create a visual fusion of folk art and Magritte. One lovely wordless spread finds Octavio revealing his dreams to his granddaughter Regina, and in so doing, Octavio also shares himself. While a counting book in concept, Sáenz’s text is layered with multiple meanings.

Young readers will enjoy its structure, numbers and playful dreams, while more sophisticated readers—and even adults—will find reasons to return to it again and again.
- September 1, 2008 
Octavio Rivera is a dreamer. He snoozes under a tree on the first summer afternoon, and dreams of a guitar falling from a piñata. On the second afternoon, while napping on the grass, he dreams of two giant turtles falling from the piñata. As his dreams continue, he suddenly gets the urge to tell someone about them, but he can’t decide who. The urge gets stronger as the days go by, and on the eighth day, after dreaming of four girls and four boys falling from the piñata, he realizes that he can talk to his granddaughter. He takes her to the park and reveals all the things he has dreamed of.

Told with poetic text and colorful, full-page acrylic illustrations filled with surreal imagery, this is an attractive bilingual title. Particularly moving is the special connection between the old man and the child. Recommended for all libraries and bookstores.
- May 15, 2008 
ForeWord Magazine
With the arrival of summer, seventy-eight-year-old Octavio Rivera “had a feeling that he was about to have the most fantastic dreams of his life.” Each afternoon his dreams are indeed incredible, as a guitar, kissing turtles, winged pigs, coyotes dressed in mariachi outfits, and other outlandish objects fall from a giant piñata.

At first Octavio tells no one, but as his dreams become more vivid, he yearns to share them with someone he trusts...The man finally realizes that there is only one person who loves dreams as much as he does—his six-year-old granddaughter, Regina.

Octavio’s bilingual story is accompanied by surreal, full-page illustrations, reminiscent of Mexican folk art. Influenced by Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo, plants, animals, and people fly and float through the sky in the bold acrylic paintings, while Octavio blends into his surroundings, his head becoming part of a hilltop or his body carried on the back of a hummingbird.

The traditional artwork is a fitting complement to Saenz’ folktale-like prose. Just like Regina, young readers will marvel at the beauty, richness, and unpredictable qualities of Octavio’s dreams. Readers of all ages will appreciate the sincere affection between grandfather and grandchild in this intergenerational story. A perfect book for sharing aloud.
- January 1, 2009 
full review >>
Horn Book Magazine
On the first day of summer, Octavio Rivera, age seventy-eight, begins to dream. Each subsequent afternoon siesta brings visions of a piñata that releases unexpected bounty: one Spanish guitar, two giant turtles, three Italian pears, etc. Aching to tell someone about these marvels, Octavio finally remembers his little granddaughter, Regina, who also experiences dreams as if they are “good friends who visit and console you when you’re lonely.”

Similarly attuned readers will share wholeheartedly in this bilingual picture book’s wonder. Sáenz’s long, languorous sentences in English and Spanish beautifully evoke a dream state in which the fantastical consorts with the mundane: “On the seventh afternoon of summer, Octavio Rivera dreamed seven magic shirts falling out of a piñata and the shirts contained all the colors of the earth and they were busy chasing the little boy who had lost them.” Concurrently, the text offers the comfort of predictability through a cadenced refrain: “And when Octavio Rivera woke...”

Valencia’s richly hued and textured surrealist tableaux depict Octavio’s dreams in a way that’s both accessible and inspired. Every picture is thoughtfully, creatively composed; especially resonant is a wordless double-page spread showing the dream images floating all around Octavio and Regina, uniting the two in imaginative reverie.
- January 1, 2009 
Baker & Taylor's Cats Meow
This tender and imaginative tale will have children enjoying the attractive colorful illustrations and counting the fantastic objects of Grandpa Tata Gabo's magic dreams of nine perfect days of summer. The real magic is in the relationship between Tata Gabo and his six year old granddaughter. She can see beyond dreams and fill his grandfather heart with love and understanding for a glorious and last ninth day of hummingbirds singing. This book is highly recommended for ages 7-8.
Midwest Book Review 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
Prize-winning children's author Benjamin Alire Saenz presents A Perfect Season for Dreaming / Un Tiempo Perfecto Para Sonar, a bilingual English/Spanish children's picturebook about an old man who enjoys the most beautiful summer dreams. He is too nervous to tell anyone about them, since they are as strange as they are wondrous; he fears that no one will understand. But the dreams fill him with so must joy that he must tell someone or burst, and at last he dares to confide in his granddaughter, who also experiences the mystery of beautiful and fantastic dreams. Happier for having shared his secret, he enjoys one more splendid dream.

Mexican-born artist Esau Andrade Valencia, whose work has been featured in museums, brings the marvelous dreams to vivid life in this brilliantly illustrated storybook.
- December 14, 2008 
Tucson Citizen
It is summer and grandfather Octavia Rivera has a series of interesting dreams but he doesn't tell anyone because he is afraid that someone will blame them on his being too old or eating too much chorizo. When finally he decides he simply must share his dreams, he turns to his young granddaughter Regina only to discover that she, too, also dreams.
- December 11, 2008 
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3–During his 78th summer, Octavio Rivera begins to have the most fantastic dreams of his life. As they grow in intensity and whimsy, so grows his desire to share these visions. Of course, the only person who understands them is his imaginative six-year-old granddaughter. The English and Spanish texts allow children, families, and teachers to share this charming tale in either or both languages. The story’s rhythmic, repetitive structure makes it an excellent read-aloud.

For example, “On that first afternoon of summer, Octavio Rivera dreamed a Spanish guitar falling out of a piñata…whispering songs of love to a sky filled with perfect stars.” “On the second afternoon of summer, Octavio Rivera dreamed two giant turtles falling out of a piñata….” Children will learn to count to 10 in both English and Spanish as they listen, which gives the story additional educational value. Meanwhile, Valencia’s bright oil paintings evoke the joy of dreams and imagination. The luminous quality of his art underscores this delight and brings to mind the bright, sun-drenched light of the Southwest. The words and images also collaborate to celebrate many facets of Latino culture, from guitars and piñatas to close intergenerational relationships. While this is an excellent choice for libraries with large Spanish-speaking populations, children of all backgrounds will enjoy it.
- April 1, 2009 
San Antonio Express-News
Saenz recently answered a few questions from the Express-News.

Q. Where did this story come from? Did it come to you in a dream, I hope?

A. No, not from a dream exactly. But from a childhood daydream. I used to watch kids break piñatas at parties. I wasn’t very good at the sport of breaking piñatas — but I was always ready to dive for the candy. I used to think to myself. Wouldn’t it be great if something better than candy would fall out of the piñata? I did think about guitars because I thought guitars were beautiful. So years later, that little boy reappeared somewhere inside of me when I started to think of a new children’s book.
- November 16, 2008 
full review >>
Critical Mass blog
An elderly gentleman is slowing down in his later years, but not his active imagination. With the need for afternoon siestas comes the time for dreaming up wildly inventive scenes celebrating the cultural experience of a long and rewarding life.
- the national book critics circle board of directors, November 30, 2008 
Horse Fly
A Perfect Season for Dreaming is the latest book from the esteemed and prolific Ben Sáenz of UTEP’s bilingual Creative Writing Department. Ben is the author of widely-praised “Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood” (a barrio in Las Cruces), named one of the Top-Ten Best Books for Young Adults of 2005.

A Perfect Season for Dreaming, for ages five to eight, tells about Octavio Rivera, an elegant, white-haired grandfather, who has a series of dreams about things coming out of a big piñata: a guitar whispering songs of live; two turtles kissing; five coyotes dressed in mariachi outfits. Octavio thinks nobody will believe him, until he snaps that his six-year-old granddaughter will. Publishers Weekly says that Esau Andrade’s illustrations are a cross between Frida Kahlo and Grant Wood. It’s a counting book in concept, but has many levels of meaning.
- December 15, 2008 
Palabra de arena blog
Un tiempo perfecto para soñar de Benjamín Alire Sáenz, en una frontera sin límites

Cruzar la frontera Juárez-El Paso este fin de semana significó retornar con un descubrimiento en el mundo de la literatura infantojuvenil. Desde hace tiempo conocíamos ya el trabajo de la editorial Cinco Puntos Press esto sucedió cuando nos inventamos el curso de Literatura Infantil en el 2004 y fuimos a visitar la sección de Colecciones especiales de la Biblioteca de la Universidad de las Cruces en Nuevo México, invitadas por. Ahí descubrimos una colección de libros bilingues que se distinguen por la calidad literaria que ofrecen a su público lector: niños; pero además hallamos una editorial comprometida con las relaciones biculturales a través del bilinguismo y del rescate de las tradiciones culturales de ambos lados de la frontera México-EUA.

Buscando materiales para los proyectos que estamos desarrollando, este sábado visitamos Barnes & Noble con el propósito de ampliar el repertorio de textos que nos permiten variar nuestras lecturas.

El hallazgo fue maravilloso: en la estantería, un tanto perdido, estaba intercalado uno de los libros de Cinco Puntos Press de Benjamín Alier Sáenz. Al revisarlo, supimos que valió la pena haber hecho las dos horas de línea en la garita del Puente Libre y tolerar las preguntas siempre incómodas del oficial de migración. El objeto-arte que hemos de compartir con nuestras comunidades lectoras hizo que nuestro retorno fuese reconfortante.

Este libro permitirá propiciar procesos escriturales en el Taller de Lecturas y Escrituras que estamos impartiendo en la Estancia Infantil del STAUACJ y la actividad en la que participaremos próximamente en Lomas de Poleo. Nos referimos a la posada navideña que organiza la familia de María Sagrario González Flores, víctima de los feminicidios, en donde leeremos textos con motivos navideños. Un elemento estructural del cuento de Alire es una piñata que alberga los sueños del protagonista y que al romperse los deja salir y llegar a nosotros.

Entusiasmadas con el texto y sus posibilidades lectoras nos hemos puesto en contacto con el autor y aquí agregamos algunos comentarios que le hemos hecho llegar en un mensaje:

Querido Benjamín Alire S.: Acabamos de leer tu libro Un tiempo perfecto para soñar y estamos realmente maravilladas con él; como dices en tu página, te refieres a un tropo literario y real del cual nos importa mucho hablar y crear con acciones desde la literatura. Además de la maravilla de la historia que recreas, estamos fascinadas por las ilustraciones de Esau Andrade Valencia. Es tal el placer de leer tu texto que sentimos una urgencia inmediata de comentarte que algunas de las estrategias narrativas que utilizas se entretejen muy bien con el argumento; esta capacidad que tienes de ir gradando el deseo de contar los sueños del protagonista, que inicia desde una aparente indiferencia por los sueños hasta la urgencia de narrarlos a alguien contagia al receptor. Además, hilvanas muy bien los elementos oníricos con aspectos surrealistas y en realismo mágico. El manejo de lo fantástico empata muy bien con el acercamiento a lo social y lo literario; entre lo más grato de las microhistorias que integran tu texto nos resultaron significativas cuando Octavio Rivera sueña "guitarras que murmuran canciones de amor a un cielo lleno de estrellas perfectas", cuando "Octavio Rivera soñó seis armadillos de Lubbock que caian de una piñata y los armadillos pedían un aventón a Tucson donde planeaban leer sus poemas en un festival literario", pero donde nos llevas a un punto de extremo gozo literario y social es cuando dices que "Octavio soñó ocho niños que caian de una piñata y cuatro de los niños eran de El Paso y cuatro de los niños eran de Juárez y todos estaban riendo y jugando y trataban de tomarse de las manos." Además del lenguaje poético que utilizas hay en el trasfondo un compromiso por romper todas estas prácticas sociales, políticas y económicas que buscan distanciarnos a los juarenses y paseños.

Otro de los rasgos que hacen tu texto muy literario es el final abierto, ambiguo y metafórico cuando el abuelo Octavio Rivera siente urgencia por soñar y "soñó, no nueve, sino novecientos colibríes que salían volando de su piñata y cada colibrí perfecto lo llamaba por su nombre y esa tarde de verano grande y hermosa, se llenó de un coro de colibríes que cantaba: -Octavio Rivera, Octavio Rivera, Octavio Rivera..."

El escritor Benjamín Alire Sáenz tiene una trayectoria literaria: cuenta con varios libros de literatura infantil y juvenil, entre otros, A gift from Papa Diego and Grandma Fina and Her Wonderful Umbrellas y varios textos que no están escritos específicamente para pequeños. Actualmente, el autor imparte clases en UTEP.
- November 16, 2008  Visit Website
Oneota Reading Journal
A charming new children’s story written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. A Perfect Season For Dreaming is a story about beauty, creativity, and trust. The book is illustrated by Esau Andrade Valencia who uses warm, bright colors to portray the fantastic, creative world of dreams perfectly. This is a wonderful book for people of all ages; both parents and children will enjoy the creative story and beautiful illustrations.
El Paso Scene
A pleasant read that leaves the reader feeling as if they have just woken from their own peaceful afternoon slumber.
- Lyn Kay tate, June 28, 2011 
full review >>
Click here to view all the reviews

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