Dakota and the American Dream

When ten-year-old Dakota becomes bored sitting next to his mother on a park bench, he drifts off into a dream in which he follows a squirrel down a game of hopscotch until he finds himself in a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures.
The satirical tale plays with many themes characteristic of America and its corporate culture as seen through the expert eyes of a child, giving the story popularity with adults as well as children. From a rudimentary perspective, the novella is about the trials and tribulations of growing up, or overweight, or old. But from another more complex one, it concerns ridiculous points of sharp humor, such as the American Dream, the rat race, racism in the workplace, the corporate ladder and hierarchy, office romance, an unhealthy love affair with body image, the obsession with prescription medication, the work and coffee culture, the constant fear of losing one’s job, the importance of golf in career success, happy hour and team-building exercises, age discrimination, and the diversity of dialect found in the United States.
To define the charm of the Dakota book—with those wonderful eccentric characters the Greenback Squirrel, the White Mouse, the Black Rat, the Bigwig, the Chairman, the Big Boss, the Westchester Whelp, the 800-pound Gorilla, etc.—as merely an adolescent arousal would convey a lack of proper understanding, for it really comprises a satire on language, a corporate allegory, a reflection of contemporary history, and a parody of twenty-first-century children’s literature.

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