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Dream on, Amber

Dream on, Amber

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Dream on, Amber

3.5/5 (4 оценки)
287 pages
2 hours
Oct 6, 2015


My name is Amber Alessandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto.
I have no idea why my parents gave me all those hideous names but they must have wanted to ruin my life, and you know what? They did an amazing job.

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...

A Junior Library Guild Selection
An Odyessy Award Honor Book
Four STARRED Reviews

Age Level: 8 and up | Grade Level: 3 to 7

Great for parents and educators looking for:
  • An illustrated format for middle grade readers, especially for reluctant readers and those who love graphic novels
  • A story featuring a strong, diverse female character
  • A funny story that deals with tough topics while entertaining young readers
  • Children's books with a story of being multiracial
  • Award-winning middle school books
  • Praise for Dream On, Amber:
    "Funny, poignant...[a] wise and accessible read for 9- to 12-year-olds."—The Wall Street Journal
    "'Dream On, Amber' also does something unusual for a children's book that grapples with race: It does not solve Amber's biracial identity crisis. Though Amber struggles with the questions of her missing father and Japanese identity, the biggest lesson of this book is that sometimes there are no answers."—The New York Times
    "One of those books that you simply won't want to put down...five out of five stars!"—The Guardian
    "[A] beautifully written story."—The Independent

    Oct 6, 2015

    Об авторе

    Emma Shevah is half-Irish and half-Thai and was born and raised in London but now lives in Brighton, England. She runs the literary club at New York University in London and teaches English at Francis Holland School. Her novel Dream On, Amber received a 2017 Odyssey Honor Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults. Visit Emma at emmashevah.com.

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    Dream on, Amber - Emma Shevah

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    Copyright © 2014 by Emma Shevah

    Cover and internal design © 2015 by Sourcebooks, Inc.

    Cover images/illustrations © Helen Crawford-White

    Sourcebooks and the colophon are registered trademarks of Sourcebooks, Inc.

    All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without permission in writing from its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

    The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious and are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

    Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc.

    P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567-4410

    (630) 961-3900

    Fax: (630) 961-2168


    Originally published as Dream on, Amber in 2014 in Great Britain by The Chicken House.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data is on file with the publisher.

    Front Cover

    Title Page












    Eleven—Undici—Jū Ichi

    Twelve—Dodici—Jū Ni

    Thirteen—Tredici—Jū San

    Fourteen—Quattordici—Jū Shi

    Fifteen—Quindici—Jū Go

    Sixteen—Sedici—Jū Roku

    Seventeen—Diciassette—Jū Shichi

    Eighteen—Diciotto—Jū Hachi

    Nineteen—Diciannove—Jū Ku

    Twenty—Venti—Ni Jū

    Twenty-One—Ventuno—Ni Jū Ichi

    Twenty-Two—Ventidue—Ni Jū Ni

    Twenty-Three—Ventitré—Ni Jū San

    Twenty-Four—Ventiquattro—Ni Jū Shi

    Twenty-Five—Venticinque—Ni Jū Go

    Twenty-Six—Ventisei—Ni Jū Roku

    Twenty-Seven—Ventisette—Ni Jū Shichi

    Twenty-Eight—Ventotto—Ni Jū Hachi

    Twenty-Nine—Ventinove—Ni Jū Ku

    Thirty—Trenta—San Jū

    Thirty-One—Trentuno—San Jū Ichi

    Thirty-Two—Trentadue—San Jū Ni

    Thirty-Three—Trentatré—San Jū San

    Thirty-Four—Trentaquattro—San Jū Shi


    A Sneak Peek at Dara Palmer’s Major Drama

    About the Author

    Back Cover

    This book is dedicated to children all over the world who—for one reason or another—are growing up without a father. I know how it feels. This book is for you.

    So the best place to start is nowhere near the beginning. No major disasters happened when I was a baby. True, I could have won an award for being the freakiest-looking mixed-up baby alive, but basically all I did was the usual icky pukey baby stuff and that was about it.

    Later on, things got about a zillion times more interesting. So interesting, in fact, that it would have been better if I’d stayed icky and pukey and lived an easy life. Actually, no. Forget I said that. But at least babies don’t come up with ingenious brain waves that lead to all kinds of trouble.

    You know how sometimes you get an idea? And then you follow that idea and complicate your life so badly that you wish it had never popped into your head? Yeah. That’s what happened. Me and my genius ideas.

    It’s not all bad though. Something good came of it. Something amazing, actually. Something that changed my life.

    But before I tell you about my idea, there are some things about me you should know or you just won’t get what I’m talking about. So here goes.

    My name is

    I have no idea why my parents gave me all those hideous names but they must have wanted to ruin my life, and you know what? They did an amazing job. Obviously I don’t use them all because it would take me about a month just to tell people what I’m called. Officially, my name is Ambra, which sounds fine in an Italian accent because the m sounds like you’re chewing a toffee and you’ve got that roly-poly r. But not when English people say it because they say Am bra. I am a bra. This is beyond embarrassing because I don’t even need one yet.

    So I use the English version of my name, which is Amber.

    I have this crazy name because I’m half Italian and half Japanese. It’s not easy to be half this and half that, especially two halves that are so completely different. I’m nearly twelve, and I live in South London with my mum and my little sister, Bella. My dad doesn’t live with us. He was a Japanese computer science student and he met my mum at Kingston University. That’s where the last name Miyamoto comes from (Japan, not Kingston University). But we don’t see him anymore. Which is kind of what triggered this whole business.

    But before I get to the messy stuff, you need to know more about my family or this just won’t make any sense. It might not make any sense anyway, but at least you’ll get the whole picture.

    So for starters, my mum’s name is Bob, and she’s a graphic designer. Having a mother called Bob might seem embarrassing (and trust me, it is) but her full name is Roberta Fiorella Santececca Miyamoto, so Bob is actually an improvement.

    Her hair is wild and curly, and she dyes it all shades from red to purple. She wears bright glittery dresses, big biker boots, and dangly earrings, and that’s for Sunday afternoon shopping trips—you should see her when she’s going out in the evening. And she has this colorful tattoo of a koi on her lower back. Koi is the Japanese name for a carp, but a carp sounds like a stupid thing to tattoo on your skin, and a koi sounds romantic and interesting. I think the tattoo was for my dad. Mum says it symbolizes strength and determination but I think it means something cheesy like I love your fishy face or your soul is forever hooked to mine or something.

    My genius idea didn’t have that much do with my mum. But it had everything to do with Bella.

    She’s six and she got lucky: my parents must have used up their entire list of hideous names on me because she’s just Isabella, and they even shortened that. She was born in a Mini Cooper on the way to the hospital because she came out way too fast. My dad had to zip into a supermarket parking lot on the way to St George’s and deliver her on the backseat, which is totally gross because we still own that car and I have to sit in it. I refuse to sit in the back though, unless Nonna (my grandma) is coming with us and then I have no choice. But Bella loves it and invites all her friends and teachers to come and see where she started out in the world. And now on every car trip, she counts the other Mini Coopers on the road and thinks that’s how many babies have been born since we left the house. So, unlike me, she came out in a weird way and has carried on being weird ever since.

    Bella’s seriously obsessed with pink, but don’t think she’s some cute fairy princess because she isn’t. She’s super bossy and molto embarrassing. (Molto is the Italian word for very—these words just pop out from time to time.) She likes playing dress-up when we go out, even to the shop up the road, and always asks a zillion random questions. She makes me take her to the park to feed the ducks and tells them stories in a really loud voice so you wish you’d never agreed to take her. And when she’s going to sleep, she picks her nose and wipes it on the wall, which means she has boogers stuck right next to her head. That is right up there with the top ten most disgusting things I have ever seen.

    I’m warning you: the heartbreaking part is coming up so if you don’t like sad stuff you can go off and watch TV or something.

    If you’re still reading, this is what happened.

    When I was six years old and Bella was one, my dad left home and never came back. I don’t know why. Maybe Mum and Dad had a big fat argument. Maybe they had lots of them; I don’t remember. And that was the end of that.

    I have no idea where my dad is now. I don’t even know if he’s alive or dead because he never writes and he never calls. He doesn’t turn up to see our school plays or take us to the zoo on Sundays like other dads who have left home. He doesn’t send us birthday cards even though he obviously knows when our birthdays are because he was there when we were born. He just left one night without saying good-bye and I haven’t seen him since.

    Mum doesn’t like to talk about it. When I bring it up, she makes a face and says it’s complicated and she’ll explain when I’m older because until then, I just won’t get it. It makes his departure kind of mysterious but in a bad way. Even if I don’t get it, I’d still like to try because not knowing makes you imagine all kinds of things.

    Maybe he spent all his time playing computer games so Mum strangled him and chucked his body in the River Thames.

    Or the Japanese mafia kidnapped and tortured him for hacking into their secret website.

    He might have got a big bonk on the head, lost his memory, and he’s wandering around somewhere trying to remember who he is and where he lives.

    He could have run off with Miss Cronin, my first-grade teacher, because she left at about the same time. They say she went to another school but who knows?

    Or maybe he was just cold and heartless and had no love to give so he went to live in a cave for the rest of his grumpy life and now he’s a weird, twisted creature like Gollum in The Hobbit.

    I’m sure the truth is far less exciting than all the things I imagine when I lie in bed.

    I tried googling him once but I wasn’t sure if any of the people who came up were really him. It kind of creeped me out, and then Mum walked into the room so I closed the page veloce. It felt so icky and weird to do an Internet search for him that I haven’t done it again, and anyway, I don’t know what I’d actually do if I found him. He’s not exactly my hero or anything. I’m pretty angry with him if you must know.

    I can’t understand how he doesn’t care about us at all. He must wonder how we’re doing, or how big we are now. Sometimes, when I’m walking down the road, I look behind me in case he’s following me, wearing dark glasses to disguise himself. Or I check the trees in the park to see if he’s hiding behind one, peeking out to see if I’m doing okay.

    Worst of all, when I see Japanese men on the Tube (that’s what the subway is called in London), I stare at them, wondering if they’re my dad. I know what my dad looks like from photos and everything, but maybe he changed: grew a pointy beard, got fatter, got taller, changed his nose with plastic surgery, or something. Then I realize it’s almost definitely not him because the man I’m staring at is, like, seventy and probably can’t speak any English, and I know my dad is thirty-five and can.

    My dad leaving feels like there’s this massive black hole in me, like the ones up there in space. It twists in a dark, silent spiral, super heavy, sucking some of the good things in and swallowing them up. I don’t know why it bothers me so much when I’ve lived nearly half my life without him but there are times when that black hole crushes me from the inside. But that’s only sometimes.

    It’s molto sad and everything but that’s what happened. Nothing’s perfect in this life, or so my mum keeps telling me. So now you know a bit about me, I can tell you how I got my genius idea and this whole crazy story started.

    It was the last day of summer break, and I was starting Spit Hill Middle School the next morning. I can’t say I was massively excited about going into middle school. There were loads of big loud scary kids in there—I used to see them coming out of the gate sometimes and getting on the bus. The girls looked even more dangerous than the boys. And in a few hours I was going to be walking through those gates myself. I was really freaking out about it. Maybe that’s why I got the idea in the first place. Panic can make you do insane things—that’s all I can say.

    So that was the day Mum asked me go and pick up Bella from her friend’s birthday party. It wasn’t far, just a few streets past the park. The whole way I was stressing about the disasters that could happen in school. What if no one liked me and everyone made new friends except me?

    There were twenty-eight kids in my class in elementary school, and only twelve of them were girls. They were okay, and I hung out with them because I didn’t really have much choice, but they weren’t majorly good friends or anything. None of them liked art. Most of the boys were annoying and the three that were almost okay were going to other schools. So I really needed this middle school thing to work out. I was seriously hoping to make some new friends.

    Because it was a new school and everything, it flashed across my mind to pretend I was someone else. I could say I was an orphan

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    Что люди думают о Dream on, Amber

    4 оценки / 5 Обзоры
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    • (3/5)
      How do you resist a character like Amber Alessandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto? Easy answer. You don't. I read the synopsis, fell in love with this half-Japanese, half-Italian little girl, and promptly added this to my reading list. I'm a big pusher of Middle Grade stories. Most specifically, I fully endorse any story that deals with diverse characters and real life situations. Dream On Amber hit all those points, and I couldn't wait to read it.

      First off, I want to give a high five to Emma Shevah for writing such a wonderfully realistic eleven year old girl. As a person who worked with children for a huge chunk of my life, I always love to see a character who feels real. Amber impressed me to no end. Her love of art, but her fear of sharing that passion with others was spot on. Middle school is a scary place to begin, and setting yourself apart from others is difficult. Plus I absolutely loved the interaction between Amber and her little sister Bella. Anyone who has been a big sister knows that fine line we walk between annoyance and pure love for our little sisters. Amber and Bella felt like a real set of sisters, and I loved it.

      In fact, it was Amber's family life that really stole my heart. From her hardworking single mom, to her whimsical little sister, this group of characters came to life on the page. I think stories like this are important for Middle Graders. How many kids are there out there who are suffering from a dad shaped hole, just like Amber? How many of them wish they had someone to identify with? Plenty. Which is why I'm happy Dream On Amber is in existence. This is important stuff.

      So why the three star rating? Mostly, and I'm being completely honest, it's because I didn't identify with this story as a whole. There were a lot of parts that I enjoyed, Amber being the main attraction. However I also felt like there could have been a deeper exploration of her feelings. There's a quick look at some bullying, that kind of blends into the background. Amber's art is in the background, but never quite comes to the forefront. This is the perfect story for a young reader, I just didn't feel like it had the oomph to transcend past that age group.

      Still, this is a solid story that I'd highly recommend to any young readers. Especially those who might be missing a dad.
    • (3/5)
      Amber is a half-Japanese, half-Italian little girl with a sister and mother who deal with life after her Japanese father abandons the family. This is a very realistic story dealing with this eleven year old's life and feelings. Amber is a wonderful big sister to Bella. She protects her from bullies and tries to help her deal with the feelings she has for their father. Amber deals with a lot in her life, she is somewhat an outcast due to her size and tries very hard to make friends. she loves art, but does not want to let anyone see her drawings.

      I'm a big proponent of Middle Grade books that children can identify with. I also loved that this book dealt with diverse characters. Stories like this are important for Middle grade students especially those who may be dealing with the loss of a parent for any reason. I enjoyed the story but felt that some of the important things were glossed over like the bullying incident and some of Amber's feelings as well as her mother. I would still recommend this book to school and public libraries to add to their collection of middle grade novels especially for girls.

      I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

    • (4/5)
      Dream On Amber is the story of an 11 year old biracial girl who is spunky and clever who lives with her single mother and younger sister and has a big hole in her heart. Her parents are divorced and she does not see her father. She has just started in a new school and she is lonely, sad and scapegoated by the school bully.In many ways this is a typical middle grade story of a young girl growing up yet I really appreciated the how genuine the characters felt and how it was easy to relate to Amber's struggles. I liked her and rooted for her. I especially appreciated the story line about Amber's efforts to understand her biracial identity and what it means for her. However, for me, there is a confusing split in the book. Amber's father is absent and that is hard. She is biracial and that is a challenge but the two story lines don't really connect. I think the book would be stronger and deeper if it did. I imagine her father's absence is painful for many reasons, one of them being that her Japanese identity is not reflected in her family and her community. Finally, I thought that the story ends too pat and easy. Most times children begin to fit in new schools/situations little by little like but Amber becomes the BEST at the art show, becomes instantly popular and she has revelations about her family and identity that most children at that age can't really have (though they can start to). So, all in all, I liked the book but didn't love it. I would recommend it to girls and boys of that age if they want to read an enjoyable and funny, sometimes poignant story with a happy and easy ending.Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read this book for an honest opinion.
    • (3/5)
      Amber's Japanese father left when she was little, and her sister Bella was just a baby, so now she fills in the frustrating gap in her life with imagined conversations, and writes letters to Bella that seem to come from their father.
    • (3/5)
      Amber begins middle school and soon finds herself in the sights of a bully. Her little sister insists on writing letters to their long-absent father and Amber is compelled to carry out the charade by sending responses. Amber is placed in Inward Reach, a class for kids who are "emotionally scarred by some major trauma or something." And she's having trouble reconciling her Japanese and Italian halves, all while keeping germs and bacteria at bay. Given all her challenges she copes with creativity and humor, retreating to her beloved art. Her voice is funny and dry. By book's end, her problems tie up as neatly as any sitcom which is to say, very quickly and not deeply satisfying. (She overcame her self-doubts way too easily after killing her "beast.") But young readers will readily identify with any aspect of her angst, whether lack of confidence, self-identity or absent father. (Nice touch: the trilingual chapter numbers.)