A Perfect Season for Dreaming

Un tiempo perfecto para soñar

By: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Illustrator: Esau Andrade Valencia
An old man tells his granddaughter about the nine most beautiful dreams of his lifetime.


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

"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 taught Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso for many years, 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.

Awards and Accomodations

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

6 reviews for A Perfect Season for Dreaming

  1. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Kirkus Reviews
    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.

  2. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Publishers Weekly
    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.

  3. Críticas
    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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. El Paso Scene
    When Octavio Rivera lies down to dream each lazy afternoon, he is showered with the most unlikely of treats from a magical piñata. After several dreams — some filled with a passing nod to the border region — Rivera struggles to find just the right person to share them with. Saenz’s poetic background and Valencia’s folksy canvas paintings were made for each other, as they take Octavio through his subconscious journeys. A pleasant read that leaves the reader feeling as if they have just woken from their own peaceful afternoon slumber, ready to share their own fanciful stories with their own children, grandchildren and friends.—Lisa Kay Tate

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