If you’re a fan of both Breaking Bad and Malcolm In The Middle you’re sure to appreciate the spoof ‘leaked’ alternative ending of Breaking Bad, which involves Bryan Cranston in bed with his Malcolm In The Middle wife, Jane Kaczmarek. Hal wakes from a dream, in which he recounts the basic plot of Breaking Bad. Lois comforts him and blows it off as pure fantasy.

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At the end of this scene, the audience is left in no doubt that Hal has simply had a dream — a ridiculously funny dream given the day-to-day routine of Hal. But then the camera pans to the right, and we now see the hat Walter White wore when in character as Heisenberg. This parodies that trick, often used in magic realist picturebooks, in which a character goes away on some amazing journey which couldn’t possibly happen in real life. Then something happens to bring the character back down to earth — variations on ‘waking from a dream’ — and on the final page, often wordless, the observant (and sometimes not so observant) reader sees some artifact which has been brought back from the fantasy realm.

Of course, young children haven’t necessarily seen this done before, and are likely to be mighty impressed by this narrative trick.

The creators of TV Tropes are far more widely acculturated and have created a long list of ‘Dream Tropes’. They’re wonderful. The kind I just described is the ‘Or Was It A Dream?’ trope.

Most recently I saw this used to good effect in The Polar Express, in which the boy is left with a sleigh bell that only children can hear. Can you think of any other picturebook examples?