Dreams of Zugunrehe (pronounced ‘Zuh-Gun-Ruh’) is a children’s book written by Dr. Michael Kinsey that explores the theme of growing up and leaving the proverbial nest. The characters are two Arctic Terns, birds that are known for traveling great distances. The little Tern is afflicted with a crippling sense of insecurity. “How could I survive out there? I’m not strong enough.”
The Mother Tern, reassures her son by saying it’s in his nature to survive out there in the wild. Sure, the world may be scary to little children as they get out there, but then again, weren’t there generations of people like us who survived just fine? The Mother Tern reminds her son that she herself was able to adjust to the unpredictable and challenging aspects of nature. In fact, she managed to get far enough to the point where she’s raising him, her own child. Just trust your instincts.
Any children’s book requires themes that can be appreciated by readers of all ages. The parents who are reading these books to their children need to feel invested in the story, no? Otherwise, what’s the point? Will their children truly absorb the messages inherent in the book? Probably not. Parents fondly remember when they had to leave the nest and migrate out to explore unknown terrains. Parents know that someday their children will also get to experience these trying, yet exciting times.
Obviously, any child won’t appreciate the message since they have yet to weather the coming storms of life. Visually, Ros Webb’s artwork of the terns and the bright blue skies and seas will be appealing to readers below the age of 10. The art is not necessarily up there with the likes of say, anything by Dr. Suess. Like I said, it’s still passable.
There are also some pages/visuals that are devoid of words. Putting the words to match the scenery and themes would’ve compounded the impact of the message.
Another point I want to raise is the use of the term “Zugunrehe”. According to the author, the word is German for “urge to migrate”. While it captures the essence of the story being conveyed, I feel it’s too esoteric for children to memorize. Children’s books should be accessible to the point they easily remember concepts like “bravery”, “friendliness”, “self-respect” and so on. Yes, we want our kids to be ready for the time they leave their parents but perhaps using the term “migrate” is more appropriate? As in, “Dreams of Migration”?
Apart from that, this book works. It’s visually pretty and more importantly, it’s poignant. I would be lying if I said I had a dry eye towards the end. It’s a great resource for parents to bond with their kids at bedtime.