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Alphabet of Dreams
Atheneum Books
for Young Readers
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Alphabet of Dreams

Young Babak has a dangerous gift: He can dream the future. Mitra, his brave older sister, is sworn to protect him. For them to survive living on the streets, she must do whatever is necessary—including using her brother's talent for profit.

When Babak is asked to dream for a powerful Magus, he receives a mysterious vision of two stars dancing in the night. Determined to solve this prophetic riddle, the Magus takes the boy and his sister on an arduous journey across the desert. What they discover will change the world in a way that no dream could ever predict....

A note from the author

One day, while reading Abbas Milani's beautiful book,Tales of Two Cities, I came upon a passage that told of an old Persian tradition, the idea that some people have the special ability to have dreams for others. Something about this idea caught me. For a couple of years I toyed with it, imagining a character who might have this ability and trying to find the right time and place for him. But I could not.

Then, on another day much later, while I was driving past a church renowned for its lovely Christmas pageant, a vision of the Three Wise Men flashed into my mind. I'd always loved the Wise Men! But now, I wondered: Who were they? Where did they come from? What did they hope to find? I decided to write about them as soon as I finished the book about the dreamer, (if I ever managed to figure that one out). And then I thought. They're part of the same book.

In 2002 my sister Laura and I went to Iran, on the trail of those ancient seekers. (She provided the courage; I, the itinerary.) With the help of our expert Iranian guide and driver, we traversed the Iranian plateau, explored ancient ruins, gazed down into a qanat, picnicked in the mountains with a Kurdish family we'd just met, wandered around a caravanserai, floated down an underground river, and visited mosques and museums. We confirmed some things I knew, debunked some things I thought I knew, and made discoveries I could never have imagined. Later, I received much help and support from Iranian friends, most notably Abbas Milani of Stanford University and Hossein Ebrahimi (Elvand) of the House of Translation in Tehran. Both men generously drew upon their own and others' knowledge to confirm some of my guesses and correct my mistakes.

One of the hardest things about writing this book was to integrate the themes of the two stories: the story of the boy who dreams for others (and his sister Mitra, who turned out to be the main character), and the story of the Magi. For a while, I despaired of ever pulling it off. But in the end, an answer came. At least, an answer that satisfies me.

Readers' Guide to Alphabet of Dreams

bullet How to use this guide
bullet Summary of Alphabet of Dreams
bullet Chapter-by-chapter vocabulary and comprehension questions
bullet Discussion questions for literature circles, book clubs, or whole class discussions
bullet Art Responses
bullet Astronomy Responses
bullet Social Studies, Geography
bullet Social Studies, Animal Transportation
bullet Social Studies, the Water System

Awards and recognition

bullet American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults
bullet Beehive Award Nominee 2007-2008 (Utah)
bullet Booklist Top Ten Religion Books for Youth
bullet Children’s Book Council Notable Social Studies Trade Book
bullet Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices List 2007
bullet Dorothy Canfield Fisher Master List 2007-08 (Vermont)
bullet Junior Library Guild Selection
bullet Kids Online Books for Holiday Giving 2006
bullet Maine Student Book Award 2007-08 Reading List
bullet New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age 2007
bullet OCTE Oregon Spirit Book Award for Young Readers 2008
bullet Oregon Book Award, 2007
bullet Oregon Young Adult Network Book Rave List 2007
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