Zazu Dreams: Between the Scarab and the Dung Beetle; A Cautionary Fable for the Anthropocene Era
NEW 2024 updated edition with foreword by Vandana Shiva and a call & response by Tyson Yunkaporta
“Zazu Dreams bursts forth from its cover, showering the reader with art, song, language, spirituality, joy, and history. In the spirit of Le Petit Prince, the door to adult reflection is opened by a child guide. With the query, 'Who needs imaginary monsters or giants or evil empires when corporations like Nestle and PepsiCo, Merck and Monsanto destroy everything in their path?' Zazu Dreams challenges us with the notion that knowledge of evil, even for the very young, is the clearest path to good. From climate change to Big Oil, war to slavery, Zazu faces the worst of humanity, while simultaneously basking in the beauty that constantly amazes and surrounds, teaching that we must live in harmony with and as caretakers of this earth and all upon it, if we wish the same in return. Three generations take us on a journey to be enjoyed by all ages. A grandmother’s artwork joins a mother’s story telling to create an adventure for her son into what it means to be human that is unrestricted by space, time or prejudice, only his—and through him our own—limitless imagination.“ ANTONIA JUHASZ, author of The Tyranny of Oil.
Zazu Dreams is a tale about the adventures of a Sephardic boy and his imaginary friend, a malamute husky, as they traverse the globe on a humpback whale across time and space, experiencing the marvels and mayhem of the relationship between humans and their environments (human ecologies). Crossing temporal dimensions and international borders, past, present, and future overlap through phantasmagorical encounters with historical figures like Jacques Cousteau, Spinoza, Rachel Carson, and ibn Sina.
For cross-generational audiences, Zazu Dreams includes lush illustrations and detailed endnotes (“The 21st Century Arcades Project”). Together, the narrative, images, and Arcades unravel the intersections between the sciences and humanities—global ecological extinction and cultural extinction of ethnic minorities. Zazu Dreams explores migration and transformation from waste to useful by-product—including toxic sludge to critical compost, desertification to oasis, cusp of extinction to restoration, body-phobia to biophilia. Symbiotic relationships from the natural world coincide with the histories of diasporic peoples from Iberia, North Africa, and the Middle East. The authors integrate two seemingly unrelated topics: Jewish and Arabic philosophies with consumer-convenience petro-culture. This cautionary fable incites transgenerational audiences to question the vast implications of the vital yet precarious concept of “sustainability.”
From the author:
"As an eight-year old in 1979, I was confronted with an image that changed my world. It was on the back cover of a magazine in my dad’s kitchen—a photograph taken in the late 1800s. Proudly standing next to a 30 foot-in-diameter redwood tree, a logger, ax in hand with his foot propped up in a traditional masculine position of conquest. The caption read: 'It took 20,000 years for this tree to grow and 20 minutes to be cut down.' I remember the tightening in my throat, rush in my stomach. I felt awe and horror, utter confusion."
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More Accolades for Alhadeff and Zazu Dreams:
“Impressive.” DR. NOAM CHOMSKY, author of Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media
“Compelling.” V, formerly EVE ENSLER, author of The Vagina Monologues
“Astonishing." PAUL HAWKEN, author of The Ecology of Commerce
“Zazu Dreams is a fascinating story that launches a new genre of book called edutainment. Amazing Research!” ARUN GANDHI, Founder/President, M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence / Grandson of MAHATMA GANDHI
“Zazu Dreams reclaims the power of language as both a poetic intervention into politics and storytelling and as a powerful force for reclaiming the radical imagination. Zazu Dreams moves across disciplinary borders, collapses genres, unsettles how we think about the planet and the need to keep it going, and inspires and energizes a sense of individual and social agency and collective hope as it unfolds. This is a brilliant book whose relevance cuts across generations, merges the space between adult and child, and gives the poetic as a force for struggle and hope a new and urgent political register.” DR. HENRY GIROUX, author of Disposable Futures: Violence in the Age of the Spectacle
"Zazu Dreams is a “fascinating book. ... This is a real cosmic adventure—through space, time, and the human heart.” BILL MCKIBBEN, author of The Comforting Whirlwind
Zazu Dreams is “... absolutely fascinating with superb drawings and an innovative juxtaposition between a very serious subject and its narrative unraveling as a childlike adventure. ... [A] totally original concept for a sociologically relevant topic. ... The book is an extraordinary fusion of fanciful allegory, childhood perception, ecological prophecy and sociological parable ... all woven together in a profound tapestry of consummate scholarship. Richly enlivened by the imaginative illustrations of Micaela Amato, Zazu’s youthful curiosity propels him through a global succession of apocalyptic encounters and joyfully elevating adventures. In the most poetic way, his ‘dreams’ embody a microcosm of global conflicts, premonitions, celebrations and spiritual aspirations. The unique accomplishment of this book is its capacity to simultaneously bridge the human condition through the innocent perceptions of a child and the world-weary apprehensions of an adult. Zazu Dreams is definitely an enlightening story for all ages.” JAMES WINES, Green Architect Founder of SITE architect
“[F]abulous! ... A powerful and visionary story wonderfully told and beautifully illustrated.” DAVID W. ORR, author of Dangerous Years
“Alhadeff is remarkably unafraid ... [and] sees the world from a perspective that few others can achieve—addressing issues of toxic chemical exposure and the way the forces in power manipulate the population to fall in line. ... Her original thinking will have significant impact on society.” DR. STEPHANIE SENEFF, Senior Research Scientist, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
“Zazu Dreams thoughtfully and colorfully addresses the crucial need for young people to develop feelings for humanity and all life.” DR. JAMES E. HANSEN, Director of the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions, Earth Institute, Columbia University
“Sephardic history meets the age of anthropocene and the result is a big bang. Zazu's Dream lifts Sephardic and Judeo-Muslim experiences out of their common association with extinction and pastness. Instead, the inherent connectivity of Sephardic history and thought is a portal to envisioning ecologies of conviviality for our suffering and wondrous planet--all this experienced by through the eyes of a child and a malamute husky journeying on the back of a humpback whale through Jewish and planetary time and space! With Zazu, we travel to post-expulsion Sephardic sites from Curacao to to Cochin and from Mesopotamia to the mellah of Ouzzane. Illustrated with intriguing, joyful, and generous artwork, peppered with Judeo-Spanish refranes and dichos, and enriched by encounters with the likes of Ibn Sina, Maimonides, and Rachel Carson among many others, Zazu's Dream passionately impresses upon us the conviviality of everything, even of waste--images and tales of life-creating poop and dung beetles abound! Both whimsical and instructive, fable-like and scholarly, this is a children's book that spares the young neither the bad news nor hope for the work ahead. It is also a phantasmagoric read for adults and a visual feast for all generations. ” DR. DALIA KANDIYOTI, author of Migrant Sites: America, Place, and Diaspora Literatures
“In Zazu Dreams: Between the Scarab and the Dung Beetle, Dr. Cara Judea Alhadeff elegantly tackles complex subject matter. A book for all ages, Zazu Dreams touches upon the complicated nature of human existence, from one end to another, with intelligence and beauty.” JOSEPH JENKINS, author of The Humanure Handbook
“We’re in the midst of damaged life, and continuing with the same old modes of thought and imagination will almost certainly allow the damage to continue. Zazu Dreams generates a new imaginary that looks beyond sustainability to genuine transformation. Rather than survival as we are, Zazu Dreams raises the possibility of a creative and marvelous new world.” DR. CLAIRE COLEBROOK, author of Death of the PostHuman
“A thoughtful, insightful, meaningful exploration of so many of the dimensions of what it is to be human in this world. Brilliant!” THOM HARTMANN, author of The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight
“Every thought, word and action we put forth, no matter how tiny or huge, whether in the streets or in offices, underground or above, either hurts or helps the wave of prosperity to ensure a bright future for humanity, and for all life on this planet & beyond. Zazu Dreams is a beautiful example of keeping our work and our play focused on our most crucial mission, securing our survival and our freedom. Let every breath we take help that wave.” GREGORY “SHKG / HUMPTY-HUMP” JACOBS, Digital Underground
“Zazu Dreams is a truly magical tale for people of all ages and all faiths (or none)—a magnificent way to introduce children to the reality of the environmental crisis while simultaneously teaching some of the deep spiritual messages that are the common heritage of humanity. Your life and your children’s lives will be greatly enriched by reading (and studying) this amazing story and its accompanying commentary!” RABBI MICHAEL LERNER, author of Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation
About the Illustrator:
Available April 2024, preview copies available here in December 2023.