Nice Dream Truck

Written by Beth Ferry, Illustrated by Brigette Barrager

HarperCollins, 2021
Medium: Radiant Watercolor Ink, Photoshop

Whenever I need a little pick me up, I do a thing that I almost NEVER do for any other book. I go to a certain very well known book selling website, and I read customer reviews for The Nice Dream Truck. 

This magical little bedtime story almost didn’t happen at all. I loved the text, but there was a scheduling conflict that we were having a difficult time sorting out. I was feeling a little burnt out after completing three books in a row and I didn’t want to feel rushed. I needed some breathing room. With a tremendous amount of negotiating we figured it out at last, and then in the midst of working on it the pandemic descended in full force. I remember working on a spread of final art for Nice Dream and hearing my partner say from the other room “my god…look at what’s happening in Los Angeles!” There were marches, fires, and police confronting crowds on the news. The anxiety in the city at that moment was tremendous, and electric. We considered moving to Santa Barbara (we didn’t). And all through the anxious weeks, I just kept sitting down at my desk and chipping away at this little book. I recall thinking “working on this is so pointless, what am I doing? The world is falling apart and I’m in a little room with my cat drawing these stupid ice cream cones, like as if it matters at all.” When it was published, the author and I did a couple virtual events for Nice Dream, but those are usually underwhelming by nature. Reading to your computer camera is just not the same as reading out loud to an audience you’re in the same room with. I sort of put the whole experience of working on it out of my mind. I moved along to the next book. 

Then one day, I got a little curious. I wondered how that little book had been received by children and parents, so I decided to read a few reviews. I couldn’t have been more surprised by the genuine responses that folks had written up and submitted: This is our favorite bedtime book! My child loves the pictures of ice cream, and now we talk about our dreams together. Our favorite page is the one with the banana split pirate ship. This book is wonderfully inclusive. This is our go-to bedtime story. The rhyming text is delightful, and the pictures are magical. My son calls it the “dream bus” and we read it every night. 

I can’t read too many at once. They make me cry.

Nice Dream taught me the accidental lesson that it’s worthwhile to continue creative work, even in the midst of tremendous adversity, even if we’re not sure where it’s going, or WHY it’s happening, or if it will be received well, or received at all. We don’t know where our work will end up, who it might delight or inspire, or whose bedtime it might make that much sweeter.

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