Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Isabella . Isabella Wonders, “When you fall asleep, dreams come, but what produces these dreams and what produces nightmares?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Isabella !

Do you remember your dreams? How about your nightmares? Our minds wander and play tricks on us while we sleep. Many people try to forget bad dreams as soon as they wake, but others use them as inspiration in real life.

One day in the 1930s, Mexican artist Pedro Linares had a high fever. Instead of going to the doctor, Linares decided to take a nap. As he fell asleep, Linares slipped into a vivid dream.

Linares dreamed about walking in a forest. He didn't feel sick. Instead, he felt healthier than he had in a long time. He walked along, taking in the tall trees and blue sky above him.

Suddenly, the dream changed. The forest melted away, and the trees and stones became monsters. These monsters were unlike anything Linares had ever seen in real life. It was as though their maker had created them by stitching together parts of other animals. Goats had wings, roosters had antlers, and rabbits breathed fire. The monsters were covered in brightly colored patterns.

Linares didn't need to be afraid. The monsters didn't attack him. Instead, they chanted, "Alebrije, alebrije, alebrije…"

Suddenly, Linares woke up. He felt much better. His fever had gone, but the dream would linger.

Soon after, Linares made the first Alebrije Monsters with papier mâché. First, he created the skeleton of each monster from thin paper and wire. Then, Linares formed the creature by layering on strips of paper he dipped in papier mâché paste. Finally, Linares painted the monsters with brightly colored designs to match the creatures from his dream.

It didn't take long for an art gallery to buy the first Alebrije Monsters. Soon, people across Mexico wanted their own. Even Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo asked Linares for his monsters!

Later, Linares returned to his village in Oaxaca. There, he worked with an artist named Manuel Jiménez Ramírez. Jiménez Ramírez created a new version of the Alebrije Monster. He used copal wood, a tree native to the region, instead of papier mâché. Many people use this technique today.

The process of making an Alebrije Monster is long. Often, a group of people works together. First, they take wood from a copal tree. The shape of the wood is very important because it will make the basic shape of the monster. The next step is to sand the wood and add details. They might attach wings, horns, or claws to the monster. Finally, the artists paint the creature with bright colors and patterns.

Many artists make Alebrije Monsters today. You're likely to see Alebrijes at Mexican festivals. They even appear in movies, like Coco! Have you ever seen anything like an Alebrije Monster? What would the art of your dreams look like?

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day was once alive, but is now hard as a rock!