1. How did you come together to collaborate on this project? Were you familiar with each other’s work?
2. Were you a fan of Pablo Neruda’s poetry before this project?
3. Did you read any particular Neruda poems as inspiration as you were working on The Dreamer? What’s your favorite Neruda poem, if you had to pick one?
4. Kids who might not be familiar with the poetry of Pablo Neruda will no doubt be riveted by the details of his childhood. Can you speak about some of the relevant themes in the books that readers will relate to—or that you related to?
5. It is not always an easy task for parents and teachers to get kids to relate to poetry, especially these days, with so many other forms of entertainment to compete with. Do you find it a challenge to interest your audience, today, with poetry?
6. Who are your influences – is there an author or illustrator that has been a particular inspiration to you, or helped shape your work?
7. How exactly does the writing and illustrating of a novel work? Does one part follow the other or are they done in tandem, the writing feeding from the illustrations and vice versa?
8. In the author’s note at the end of The Dreamer, you give readers some very helpful background information about Pablo Neruda, and how you came to write his story. Can you tell us about your growing interest in Neruda, and your decision to write this book?
9. Are the details about Neruda’s early life factual? Can you tell us about the specific research you did while writing The Dreamer?
10. One of the elements I loved about the book, and your writing, was they way you described Neftali’s (who later became Neruda) obsession with the staccato details of language. Can you tell us how about your decision to incorporate elements of poetry—rhythm, repetition, visual imagery—to tell the story?
11. Neftali’s struggle is so relatable to middle-grade readers—finding your own voice, and the courage to stand up for yourself. But he has to deal with so much more at the same time—a brutal father, and the politically volatile atmosphere in Chile. This is a book that can be read for pleasure, but will certainly be a favorite for librarians and teachers as well. Can you speak to some of the themes that may have practical teaching applications?
12. You have a devoted readership and are a prestigious, beloved author on the Scholastic list. Can you tell us anything about your future projects?
Thank you for such a rich sharing of your writing process, Pam.
Pablo Neruda is one of my favorite poets, and Pam Munoz Ryan is one of my favorite children's writers. I first discovered her when I read ESPERANZA RISING, and I am glad to see more of her books on the horizon!