When We Got Lost in Dreamland by Ross Welford

What would you do if you had the power to control your dreams? Would you meet people that you would never be able to meet in real life? Would you have crazy adventures? In Ross Welford’s latest book, When We Got Lost in Dreamland, Malky discovers a device that allows him and his little brother, Seb, to share dreams and control them, which has disastrous consequences.

Malky has never really got on with his little brother, Seb. He’s the annoying little brother who always gets in the way. Their relationship changes one day, when Malky brings home the Dreaminators, seemingly harmless devices that hang over your bed and allow you to control your dreams. Malky has stolen them from the back yard of a house down the road from him, after a dare from a girl at school. At first, Malky thinks that they are just cheap and tacky, but after reading the instructions Malky and Seb try them out. They discover that they can share their dreams and control them. They can have fun in their dreams and if something gets too weird or scary, they can alter the dream or wake themselves up. The more dreams that Malky and Seb share, the closer they become, until the night that disaster strikes. While sharing a dream something scary happens, and while Malky escapes and wakes up, Seb remains lost in the dream. No matter what Malky or his family try Seb won’t wake up, so he is transferred to hospital. The doctors are perplexed about Seb’s condition and no one seems to believe Malky about the Dreaminators. Malky knows that he is the only one who can rescue Seb from the dream and he must own up to the theft of the Dreaminators in order to get help from its creator, Kenneth McKinley. Will Malky be able to save Seb before the doctors and his family pull the plug?

When We Got Lost in Dreamland is another wonderfully original story from Ross Welford. Like each of his books, this one makes you think, care deeply for the characters and makes you leap into the unknown. I love how Ross takes a seemingly impossible idea, like time travel or controlling dreams, and makes it happen. Ross throws you straight into the story and hooks you in with a taste of what is to come. Malky’s voice is clear from the first page and you want to keep reading to discover how things went so wrong.

One of the things that I love about Ross Welford’s books is the way that he uses foreshadowing. He teases little details of the story to make you keep reading, like ‘It turns out it’s all going to become a lot clearer, but not necessarily in a good way.’ He’s telling you that you will get answers to your questions eventually.

Relationships play a big part in this story, whether it is between Malky and Susan, Malky and Mr McKinley, Malky and Seb, or Malky and his dad. Malky isn’t sure about Susan at first but their relationship grows throughout the story as they are thrown together both in and out of school. She is different from anyone else that Malky knows but she becomes an important ally. Malky isn’t honest with Mr McKinley when they first meet, but the more that he gets to know Mr McKinley, the more important he becomes to helping Malky save his brother. Mr McKinley is a curious character who I enjoyed learning more about as the story progressed. Malky’s relationship with Seb changes the more they share dreams and Malky finds that he really does care about Seb. When Seb gets lost in Dreamland, Malky does whatever it takes to get him back again, including putting himself in danger. Malky’s relationship with his dad is quite strained and we learn there are complicated reasons why his dad hasn’t been part of his life for a while. The lack of trust that Malky’s dad has in him infuriated me.

When We Got Lost in Dreamland another fantastic book from one of my favourite authors. I highly recommend all of his books, which are great for class sets for Year 7/8. There is plenty in Ross’s books for readers to ponder and his characters stick with you.

Lark by Anthony McGowan

I can absolutely see why Lark won the Carnegie Medal. It is a perfect novella that packs an emotional punch and keeps you on the edge of your seat. By the end of the story I felt like I knew Kenny and Nicky intimately.

Lark is the story of the boys’ visit to the moors which becomes a life-changing moment. What starts out as a ‘lark’ or a bit of fun soon turns in to a fight for survival. A blizzard closes in and both boys and their dog are ill-prepared for such conditions. Just when things couldn’t possibly get worse they do and you don’t know if they will make it home again.

Published by Barrington Stoke the book is dyslexia friendly so the chapters (and the book itself) are short. I think it would be perfect for those Year 7-9 boys who are reluctant readers