Keaghan in Dreamside by J. Daniel Batt
Radial Works Media, 2012
[Goodreads | Amazon]
“Keaghan in Dreamside” is a fantastic journey of a curious boy into the mysterious Dreamside, a labyrinth world of magic he discovers inside his own home. Dreamside is a place of mystery and wonder, but also of great danger. During his journey, Keaghan meets some very strange characters. But also wandering the twisting halls of Dreamside is a monstrous creature that has no intention of letting Keaghan find his way back out!
As someone who has spent the majority of her life working in one form or fashion with elementary aged kids, I am always on the lookout for books that this particular age group would find intriguing and keep them turning the pages. Upon finishing Keaghan in Dreamside, I realized that this was one of those types of books: a book with an engaging main character, fully imagined and realized world, and an adventure (and who doesn’t love a good adventure?).
Keaghan is a really fun, spunky hero who is inquisitive and brave in equal measures. It is his curiosity that lands him in Dreamside, which in this book exists in all our homes, and you can get there by rounding a certain number of dream corners. Once in Dreamside, Keaghan must figure out how to return home, and the majority of this book is spent on that return journey. It had just the right mix of surprise and imagination, and was really quite a lot of fun to read. I especially liked the realistic portrayal of Keaghan, particularly when it came to his feelings about his younger sister, who he considers a brat, and likes to use as an excuse for his behavior. His annoyance with his sister, and the blame he puts on her for his actions led to my favorite line of the entire book:
“If she can make you do things, then she must be a great puppeteer, and you the puppet.” (55%)
I love this line so incredibly much that I’ve decided I’m going to use it with my students the next time they try to blame someone else for their actions. What Keaghan figures out in the end, of course, is that he does care about his sister, and just wants to get home to her and the rest of his family. I especially liked his realization in the end, that allows him to get home, but will avoid any details to keep from spoiling you.
I also really enjoyed reading about Dreamside, particularly the creatures living there and their jobs, and the fact that all of your lost things (especially the socks!) wind up there. I give Mr. Batt all kinds of kudos for his imaginary world.
As a heads up, I did notice some typos (incorrect words in some instances), and my only complaint would be the overabundance of exclamation points; I was willing to let that slide, however, thanks to our narrator and the almost constant state of agitation and exuberance that children that age exist in. It wouldn’t have been the way I would have done it, but I’m not the author, and it really doesn’t hurt anything in the story. :)
Keaghan in Dreamside is a wonderful read for mid to upper elementary aged children. They will enjoy Keaghan’s personality, and the journey he must go through to return home. Because of its length, there’s really not too much to it, and it doesn’t go as in depth as you might see in a YA book, but it works very well for it’s intended age group. All in all, this is a solid book that I would definitely recommend to my students. I just wish it was available in print!
A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
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