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Dare to Dream! Review by Susan Marlow

By Carl Sommer
Advance Publishing
6950 Fulton Street
Houston, TX 77022

"Beware of dream destroyers. They'll make fun of you, call you names, and even threaten you. Be strong. Refuse to listen to them. Never let anyone steal your dreams!"

This good advice comes from the newest title in the Sommer-Time stories: Dare to Dream by author Carl Sommer. His "Fun Times with Timeless Virtues" series highlights various character traits with creative, nicely illustrated stories. This 8 x 11-inch hardcover picture book is 44 pages long and includes a protective dust jacket. It is also available as a 7 x 9-inch hardcover for a lower price, as well as a read-along CD. Even young children will enjoy the pictures and easy-to-understand text when read aloud.

Why is Roy's dad, Nelson, a successful doctor? Why is Roy's Uncle Alvin in prison? What made two brothers follow such different paths? Roy wants answers to these questions, and Dad is more than happy to share his growing-up years with his son. Roy learns how his father, Nelson, and his uncle grew up in the poorest section of town, among drugs and gangs. Although Nelson's father had died, the youngster learned valuable life lessons from his grandfather. Over and over again, Grandfather encouraged the young boys to dare to dream of a better life by making right choices and working hard. Nelson listened. Alvin did not. Is it any wonder Nelson became a doctor and Alvin ended up in prison?

Although I became a little confused with the "stories within the story"-Nelson telling Roy his story, which in turn has Grandfather telling stories to Nelson-Dare to Dream is worth reading. The young African American boy from the ghetto is so far removed from our homeschooling mindset that this book becomes a window into another world-a world worth taking a look at. The disturbing yet masterfully drawn illustrations of teens loitering on the streets, "bottles" in hand, provide an opportunity for discussion and prayer with our children. Grandfather briefly retells the life stories of Ben Franklin, George Washington Carver, Helen Keller, and Abraham Lincoln, and how they let no one destroy their dreams.

The character traits of courage, responsibility, and self-discipline are emphasized throughout the story. Advance is not a Christian publishing company, but the books do a nice job presenting timeless biblical principles. This series of books has won a number of awards, including the Mom's Choice Award and the Family Review Center Gold Award.

Product review by Susan Marlow, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2007