A review by Joey Madia
Comprising heartwarming photos of stuffed bears, costumed and posed with fun props and interesting, engaging sets, Dreamy Days and Random Naps recalls the wisdom of JRR Tolkien and Maurice Sendak, who said that they did not write books for children—it was the publisher and others who said they did.
While visually appropriate for children as young as three or four (and, having raised children of my own, that is an interesting time when it comes to the politics of napping), the deep wisdom of this book will be appealing to parents, grandparents, teachers, and others who need a reminder that dreaming and imagination are, as Albert Einstein said, more important than intelligence.
Not that Mawson the bear and his friends are in any way UN-intelligent. Although ready comparisons can be made to the giants of literary beardom, such as Paddington and Winnie the Pooh, Mawson and his companions are more ambitious, curious, and just plain inspiring.
The koan-like opening statement, “Why is it that the best that one can be is always one more nap away… from what one is being?,” cues the reader that this is not your average Teddy Bear. Like The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet, Dreamy Days and Random Naps celebrates the core necessities of a life well lived—Companionship, Vision, and the Will to Make Things Better for yourself and those around you.
The first friends Mawson meets are the Seekers—a classic archetype. It is in this interaction that Mawson is most like Pooh, as he seeks to understand what they are endeavoring to do.
In between the vignettes, featuring a charming and diverse cast of characters, there are single-page prescriptions for and observations about napping and dreaming. These are worth a pause for reflection. I certainly would have gone to them daily when negotiating naptime with my daughter.
As a professional storyteller, one of my most popular characters is a Scottish pirate, so I was thrilled to encounter a plaid-adorned bear whose dream is to be “King Scotland the Brave.”
We also meet professors and inventors, whose gizmos and gadgets—such as a Wish-Back-Lamp—are commentaries on the dangers of getting what you thought you wanted, needlessly seeking faults in others, and Hoping without Action.
The importance of the arts is also represented. One of Mawson’s recurring companions is named Sam. Sam wants to dance, knowing that all of the dances of the world are out there, waiting for her to step into. What a beautiful notion; what a bear-intoned echo of the Persian poet Rumi’s “[D]ancing is when you tear your heart out and rise out of your body to hang suspended between the worlds.”
Our would-be Scottish king also re-emerges, wanting to play the guitar and not being concerned that he doesn’t yet know how. When Mawson asks him how he will accomplish this, he says he will “bravely improvise.”
How wonderfully Bill and Ted. And equally wonderfully true.
As we near the end, the Seekers return, speaking of a place “between myths and memories…”
I will leave it to you to buy this book and learn the rest. It is profoundly beautiful and so very needed in our troubled, complex world.
Then, after you read it, hopefully with a group of family and friends, give yourself the gift of a good nap and mythic dreams.
I am sure Mawson will be very pleased you did.
TITLE: Dreamy Days and Random Naps
AUTHOR: Mawson/Mark O’Dwyer