Parker just wants to master his video games and maintain a degree of coolness at school. He never asked to be sucked into Dreams. He didn’t want to be paired with a “loser” or discover a plot with the potential to destroy both the world of Dreams and the world of Awake (our world). He’s just a gamer, not a hero. But when he accepts just who he is, he finds he’s capable of anything.
Mikey Brooks has created a vibrant, wild world with a host of fabulous characters. My favorite is Gladamyr—the “Mare (nightmare) who loved.” What a great contradiction and an effective means to illustrate the book’s theme, that of the balance between good and evil. The two kid heroes, Parker and Kaelyn, are likeable and internalize some great life lessons during their adventure. And there’s a whole slew of others: Zelda, the eccentric psychic; Cerulean (these guys have great names, don’t they?), the tough-as-nails boss with the gentle heart; a handless and footless pirate; a Mare clown that juggles chickens. These are characters with a lot of character.
I really appreciate that Mr. Brooks keeps his language completely clean. There are some violent moments, but they’re dreamlike and kid-friendly. In fact, the setting and plot are very dreamlike—totally appropriate for the story, but my realism loving brain sometimes found the chaos a little hard to process. (That part reminded me a bit of Alice in Wonderland.) And the prose does get a litte rough in places. But there are far more positives than negatives, such as this great quote: “It wasn’t what appeared on the outside that made someone who they were, but what reflected on the inside.” Or, “Remember that the choices you make will not only lead you in a direction, they make you who you are.”
I enjoyed the imagination, detail, and positive thinking that went into this one.
Mikey Brooks is a member of Emblazon. He’s a small child masquerading as adult. On occasion you’ll find him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several picture books including BEAN’S DRAGONS and the ABC ADVENTURES series. He spends most of his time playing with his daughters and working as a freelance illustrator. Mikey has a BS degree in Creative Writing from Utah State University. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast.