At Dream street, everything is possible.
Beautiful catches butterflies and dreams of becoming a lepidopterist.
Little Benjamin is lying in his bed, counting the stars that twinkle through his bedroom window.
Mr. Phillips has five sons and dreams of starting his own jazz band.
âWe really wanted to write a book where kids could see themselves in it, as well as know their dreams matter,â says author Tricia Elam Walker. “So it’s a place where creativity abounds, and imagination and dreams are celebrated.”
Dream street was illustrated by Ekua Holmes. She and Elam Walker are cousins ââwho grew up together in Roxbury, Mass. They based their first book together on their childhood neighborhood – a beautiful place full of parks, trees and gardens, full of all kinds of houses, old and new.
âWe kind of grew up together, played a lot together and created a lot together,â says Elam Walker.
Elam Walker was a lawyer but quit her job to write. She and Holmes knew they wanted to work on a book together, but they weren’t sure where to start. So Holmes started sending her cousin pictures of collages she had made.
âIt could be a piece of poetry that I found in an old discarded book,â says Holmes. âIt could be a piece of wallpaper from the 1950s.â¦ I use lace and fabric and things like that. I like things that have been used before because they already have life, they have. already a story. “
Elam Walker pieced together the story, filling Dream street with characters from their childhood.
They named the librarian in honor of Elam Walker’s mother, Mrs. Barbara.
âShe loved books, especially children’s books,â says Elam Walker. “She would have stacks of them which she read voraciously. She also said that children’s books could solve the world’s problems.”
In Dream street, Zion reads a stack of books and asks Mrs. Barbara if the boys can be librarians. “Of course they can,” she said.
Elam Walker and Holmes say they were also inspired by everyone in the neighborhood – from their teachers and cousins ââto the ladies in the church.
âI’ve always been fascinated by them, with their beautiful hats and flowers, and how majestic they looked and their gray hair. Or just the people at the bus stop,â says Holmes. “These are times we can go through every day without realizing how precious they are.”
A character in the book, Mr. Sidney, reads the newspaper every morning on his porch, “dressed to perfection.” He reminds Elam Walker of her grandfather who she says cleaned white houses.
âAnd he packed his cleaning clothes like a briefcase and wore a suit to catch the train to where he was supposed to work,â she says. “And then at the end of the day, change her clothes.”
Elam Walker and Holmes no longer live in the same neighborhood. But they say no matter where they’ve lived over the years, they’ve always been connected.
âWe have the bond of family, the bond of friendship, but we’ve also always had the bond of art,â says Holmes. “I can’t say that’s true of all my friends and family, who might be willing to spend maybe 20 minutes in a museum but not two hours.”
They are also now linked together in the pages of Dream street – the cousins ââregistered as two young girls named Ede and Tari.
âEde lives on top of the hill and searches for treasures that others throw away,â writes Elam Walker. “Meanwhile, her cousin, Tari, is careful when new people arrive so she can make up stories about them.”
Together they write and draw on the floor and dream that one day they will create a picture book about everyone in Dream Street.
“I love,” says Elam Walker, “that our story is steeped in history and that it is the story of our dream.”