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.

What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible by Ross Welford

If you had really bad acne you would want to do anything you could to get rid of it.  You would try every possible remedy you could, possibly even resorting to less scientifically-proven methods.  Imagine, though, that you had tried everything that you possibly could and were feeling pretty downhearted, until one day you wake up and you’re actually invisible!  Not only can nobody see your spots, they also can’t see your whole face or the rest of your body.  This would be enough to freak anyone out and you would have to figure out how and why it has happened.  This is the weird situation that Ethel finds herself in in Ross Welford’s fantastic new book, What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible.

y648Turning invisible at will: it’s one way of curing your acne. But far more drastic than 13 year-old Ethel Leatherhead intended when she tried a combination of untested medicines and a sunbed.It’s fun at first, being invisible. And aided by her friend Boydy, she manages to keep her extraordinary ability secret. Or does she…?When one day the invisibility fails to wear off, Ethel is thrown into a nightmare of lies and deception as she struggles to keep herself safe, to find the remedy that will make her seen again – and solve the mystery of her own birth.

What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible is a weird and wonderful story full of mystery and marvels.  There is something for everyone in this book, from an invisible girl and her family secrets to unexpected friendships and secret missions.  I loved Ross’ first book, Time Travelling with a Hamster, so I was really looking forward to this book and Ross doesn’t disappoint.  There are plenty of mysteries to keep you guessing and some really tense moments too.  I was holding my breath in anticipation in several parts of the story, wondering whether Ethel’s invisibility would be noticed.  Ross also lightens the mood with some funny (and embarrassing) moments.  Ross captures both the excitement and the terror that I’m sure you would experience if you found yourself invisible.

Ross shows us that people often aren’t who we perceive them to be.  Almost everyone in the story has an aspect of themselves that they keep hidden.  Ethel herself buys strange medicines online without her grandmother knowing,  her Gram and her Great-Gran have secrets of their own, Elliot Boyd (or Boydy to his friends) is different from what she’s been led to believe, and the school bullies Jesmond and Jarrow are quite different when they’re in their own home.  Ethel discovers that the life that she knows is a lie and sets out to uncover the truth, with the help of Boydy.

The thing I loved most about this book is the friendship between Ethel and Boydy.  Ethel is initially skeptical about being friends with Boydy, who is an outcast at school.  He doesn’t seem to care what people think though and Ethel starts to warm to him.  He may seem a bit strange to Ethel but he becomes a loyal friend who will do anything to help her.

Like Time Travelling with a Hamster I think What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible would make a great read aloud for Years 6-8 as it would create some good discussions.  I can’t recommend Ross Welford’s books highly enough.  I can’t wait to see where Ross Welford takes us next!

 

Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford

‘My dad died twice.  Once when he was thirty-nine, and again four years later when he was twelve. (He’s going to die a third time as well, which seems a bit rough on him. but I can’t help that.)’

With this first paragraph, Ross Welford immediately grabs you and takes you on a wild ride through time in his brilliant (and brilliantly titled) new book, Time Travelling with a Hamster.

Time Travelling

On Al Chaudhury’s twelfth birthday his beloved Grandpa Byron gives him a letter from Al’s late father. In it Al receives a mission: travel back to 1984 in a secret time machine and save his father’s life.

Al soon discovers that time travel requires daring and imagination. It also requires lies, theft, setting his school on fire and ignoring philosophical advice from Grandpa Byron. All without losing his pet hamster, Alan Shearer

Time Travelling with a Hamster is a funny, fresh take on time travel about a boy who would do anything to get his father back.  This book has all the elements of a truly great book – humour, suspense, action, wonderful characters, and lots of heart.  It makes you laugh, cry  and nervously chew your nails.

This is the perfect time travel book for kids (and adults who love the idea of time travel).  Ross brings his own ideas about time travel into the story and makes it easy enough for kids to understand, without dumbing-down the ideas.  The time machine that Al’s dad built is not quite what Al imagined a time machine would look like.  It is very simple – a laptop connected to a tin tub.  Even something this small creates its own problems when traveling back in time.  My favourite aspect of Ross’s idea of time travel is ‘Dad’s Law of Doppelgangers.’ Al’s dad explains in a letter to him that ‘an object (or person) may occupy the same dimension of spacetime ONLY ONCE.’  When Al travels back in time he realises that he ‘cannot go back to the same place and time that I was before: it has already been occupied – is already occupied – by me.’ As you can imagine this causes a few problems for Al.

It is a nerve-wracking story at times.  There are times in the story that I was holding my breath, wondering how Al was going to get out of a certain situation.  As with all time travel stories, little things that are changed in the past can have dramatic effects in the future.  Al’s actions have quite dramatic effects on his life and you can’t help putting yourself in his shoes, wondering if you would have done the same.

While it is nerve-wracking at times, there is also a lot of heart in this story.  Al misses his dad, who died much too soon.  When he gets the chance to go back in time to save him, Al steps into the unknown and does what his dad asks.  Al loves his family and if he can bring them back together again he will.  The relationships between the males in Al’s family are very strong, especially between Al and his Grandpa Byron.  Al looks up to Grandpa Byron, who is wise, caring and has an incredible sense of humour.  Grandpa Byron was the character that really stood out for me.

Ross Welford is an author that I’ll be watching.  I can’t wait to see what he writes next!