Puppet Dreams by Jose Sevilla Ho (English review)

Puppet Dreams

"Puppet Dreams" is Jose Sevilla Ho's first children's book. It is about Paul and his unusual friendship with Dum Dum, a marionette. It reminded me a lot of Pinocchio and Geppetto, only fabricated in today's world.

The Plot: Paul's mother is upset that Paul is spending more and more time with Dum Dum, his dummy, rather than playing with children. Paul is also sleepwalking and stutters and that's why he should see the doctor. The reason why every grown up is believing Paul is behaving oddly is that his mother and father are separated. But Paul knows the truth: his marionette is alive!

Paul got the doll on a school field trip to a puppet museum and Dum Dum, the manikin, moved into his bag to run away from his awful owner, Marc.

And with the time Paul really feels like Dum Dum and he became friends: they play games, Dum Dum helps him not to stutter and they have many adventures together.

But Paul's mother announce soon that the puppet needs to find his former owner or "she will throw the damn thing in the bin!" (Position 84)

However the puppet also has kind of a bad side and Dum Dum instigate Paul to run away from home, to beg, to steal, to sniff fumes and drink alcohol, etc. It also seemed to have a split personality, one who is kind and thoughtful and one who is kind of reckless and mean. Unfortunately Dum Dum never really seems to learn out of his mistakes and he often makes friends with the wrong people.

What I also didn't like that the grown up world with its rules and principles was often shown black and white: the pleasures and advantages life brings (and some things which are still kind of taboos like two timing, harem, run from the law) are depicted as almost always being positive even though for example fumes can cause health issues and stealing is bad.

Even though I think it is good to display the different sides of the human nature, I felt that Paul and Dum Dum seldom learned their lessons and the responsible adults were only viewed as boring and irritating. Paul was also so depending on Dum Dum having the right decisions and even when he felt differently about something, he let himself be manipulated by the dummy (which was really frightening at times, especially when Paul run away from the law). I don't know if I would let any child read the novel without explaining first that for every action, there is a reaction of some sort. The themes were also not very suitable for children (I only think about the figurine who had a harem and that they were always drinking beer). I know that many kids are infuenced by the media and are interested in the life of adults. Yet, it is too gross when Dum Dum is turned on by the Spanish dancing of one of the marionette and that almost none childlike places existed in the whole novel.

From the beginning of their travels to the Valta circus, the bad influence of Dum Dum increased dramatically.

Be that as it may, there were also some uplifts in the story. For example the sayings of Dum Dum which entertained me much: "I'm so weary of people making me talk. With their meagre vocabularies and their hackneyed emotions. As Shakespeare said, We know what we are, but not what we may be." or "It wouldn't be possible to live without imagining some things."

All in all, a nice story, only not much for younger children. I really liked the idea of the circus route and for me it was more a fairy tale as a children's story, although I was kind of relieved when Dum Dum finally found his own way and began living with Ginger instead of Paul at the end.


Kind regards,
Butterfly Mentions

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