Presented in short episodes, Bobby Boyd’s text-heavy picture book The Land of Dreams: Adventures with Herman and Sleepy chronicles magical train journeys around a dream world by a small boy named Herman and his teddy bear companion, Sleepy. Written by a lifelong teddy bear collector, the book is inspired by the first teddy bear that Boyd collected, according to the author bio.
In an obvious effort to write a bedtime story, Boyd is heavy-handed with the dream imagery, as in: “You can get to the Land of Dreams by taking the Train of Nod at Bedtime Station.” Characters also take The Deep Sleep Express and visit The Sandman’s Home. Destinations feel a bit like an adult’s idea of what may delight children, including The Castle of Stuffed Toys, Marshmallow Mansion, and the Station of Wildest Dreams. The author chooses many character names for their meanings, too: Mr. R.T. Cherishing, Mr. T.W. Lightning, and Mr. C.H. Venture are some.
The effect of all this is not without some delight, but unfortunately, it makes a book intended to be playful feel laden with efforts at cleverness. This loaded quality may not bother children but could present a problem when it comes to winning adult book buyers (adults will need to read this book aloud, since it is written with vocabulary that demands higher reading skills than the young audience targeted by its contents).
Boyd is at his best in showing action in words and illustrations— particularly the train’s movements at various speeds, in a loop, and shooting into outer space. Children may also find the crazy creatures that are found at the Station of Wildest dreams stir their own imaginings of wildly unusual animals.
In sum, this picture book has flaws and over-earnestness that mark it as a novice work. Nevertheless, it offers some enjoyable moments.