Cover image for Willy's summer dream
Willy's summer dream
Brown, Kay, 1932-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, [1989]

Physical Description:
132 pages ; 24 cm
Fourteen-year-old Willy, slow in school and ridiculed by other boys in his Brooklyn neighborhood, faces another dull summer with his mother until tutoring from an older girl and other special experiences help him develop a sense of self-confidence.
General Note:
"Gulliver books."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Brown presents a heartwarming story of a young boy who has been classified retarded and of the patient young woman who works with him until he emerges from his self-doubt and makes progress in learning.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6-9. Willie is slow in school and out, but he doesn't know why. His self-confidence suffers accordingly until it gets a boost from the easy, unaffected friendship offered him by Kathleen, his neighbor's niece, visiting from the West Indies. Kathleen also begins tutoring Willie, gently pushing him to work on his reading and writing. When she suddenly announces that she is returning home, Willie is distressed. However, the small gains he has made are sustaining, and he begins to believe in himself again. Brown's story of a boy with learning problems is affecting; Willie is vividly portrayed as a lost soul, distanced from his working and emotionally cool mother, avoided by his careless, absent father, and lost in the cracks at school, where his mother objects to the special education classes he's slated for. His emotions and inner turmoil have a striking credibility that override the story's less well-integrated elements (an unctuous aunt and Willie's attempt to prevent a young friend from being physically abused). The occasional profanity that occurs isn't gratuitous and fits the context of this thoughtful, heartfelt story. --Denise Wilms

Publisher's Weekly Review

Willy Palmer, 14, has always been slow in school, but has assumed he would catch up. It comes as a shock when he is assigned to a special-education class near the end of the term. Realizing he will always be different, Willy quits school and begins to retreat from the world. Summer in his ghetto neighborhood seems even more bleak than usual until Willy becomes friends with his neighbor's visiting niece. By focusing on his assets rather than his limitations, Kathleen inspires Willy to achieve his full potential. Without labeling or analyzing his deficiencies, the novel reflects Willy's childlike innocence and conveys the depth of his confusion. In her first work, Brown convincingly portrays a young man's changing outlook and inner growth while challenging accepted notions about the learning-disabled. Sensitive readers will respond to her innovative and thought-provoking ideas. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-- In her first novel, Brown illuminates the heart and emotions of one of those children who spend their lives in the back of the classroom failing in silent despair. Willy, 14, can't read. His mother, overwhelmed by supporting them alone, can't give him the sustained attention he needs. His Brooklyn school succeeds only in pinpointing his failure; when a special class is suggested, Willy simply stops going to school. His overwhelming sense of worthlessness is crystalized in the book's opening scene in which, despite his height, he is laughed off a local basketball court because of his lack of skill. It is only when a neighbor's visiting niece takes an interest in him that things begin to change. Kathleen seems attracted to him, believing in his ability to change. She tutors him as the summer begins, and a tentative relationship ensues. Kathleen's abrupt departure, when she is called home to the West Indies, throws Willy for a loop, but his persistence in saving a young child from physical abuse improves his self image. In the end, he takes another shot at basketball, a symbol of his taking control of his life. This is an impressive debut. Brown brings Willy to life, vividly sharing his pain with readers. Her use of street language in dialogue and narrative brings rhythm and passion to her prose. There are structural weaknesses in the plot, and the characterization is uneven. Nevertheless, Brown has a steady grasp of the essence of her protagonist, and has created a strong and compelling book in the process. --Christine Behrmann, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.