What dream or memory would you be willing to give up to find a place of comfort and peace? In "The Circus of Stolen Dreams," author Lorelei Savaryn asks you that question and then takes you on an incredible journey investigating other people's dreams and nightmares.
"The Circus of Stolen Dreams" has all the parts of a spooky tale. It features a mysterious circus, Reverie "Land of Dream" that appeared in the woods, which has an entrance price of one memory — good or bad; the Sandman is in charge; and the night can go on forever. What more could a girl ask for?
Andrea is a 12-year-old girl who misses her brother, Francis. It seems he has been missing for three years, right around the time their parents decided to get a divorce. Now, she and her parents have forced Sunday dinners together, and they have decided it is time to get rid of all of Francis' boxes. This plan does not sit well with Andrea, and instead of going through the boxes for keepsakes, she jumps on her bike and rides into the night. On her ride, a yellowed piece of paper blows off a tree and into her face. This must be a trick, Andrea thought, because this would be the answer to everything. "REVERIE 'Land of Dreams' Come and join us, come away. Forget your troubles, come and play." If this place is real, Andrea would join in an instant.
Then she turned to the woods, and there it was. Tents, children, laughter and bright colors everywhere. At the entrance, she meets Margaret Grace who explains, "Reverie has always been there for those who need it, of course. It's waiting for any child in desperate need of escape to find it. And right now, in these woods, it is here for you." The circus requires one dream for admission. This can be a happy dream you can live over and over in one of the tents or a nightmare you don't have to come near, or you can give up a memory to be forgotten as long as you are there. Andrea doesn't hesitate to give up the memory of the night Francis disappeared. The Sandman dusts her eyes and her visit begins.
Andrea heads to the fairway where she sees hundreds of children, none dressed alike. There are some in saris and sweatpants, bows and knee highs, some super clean and others looking like they have been worn for days. She meets a girl named Penny, and they become fast friends. They pig out on all kinds of food and sweets. She sees the Dream Clock in the center. One hand points to the D in Dreaming while the bottom half says Awake. There is a picture of the Sandman and his magical umbrella. They begin to explore the tents. Some are fun, like flying and laughing, but some are nightmares of darkness and threat. It's here that Andrea encounters Francis' worst fear. Now convinced he is here too, she and Penny set out to find him. The Sandman proves to not be who he should be. Once they find Francis, the three children start a plot to free everyone from this perpetual nightmare. A few twists and turns later, and things are looking up for the children visiting the circus.
In the end, the true Sandman is back in charge and Reverie is again a place of wonder and awe. Andrea and Francis are ready to face the future together.
Donna Loehner is the children's programming associate as the Missouri River Regional Library.