Wednesday 16 February 2022

Into the Sideways World

Into the Sideways World by Ross Welford (Harper Collins Children’s Books) Paperback, Middle Grade/ YA $14.99 ISBN 978 0 008 33384 3

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks 

Into the Sideways World is an adventure story that explores family, science fiction and sliding door moments. What if at a particular moment at the exact same time a different choice was made in another parallel world? I love the concept of not going backwards or forwards in time but travelling sideways. Imagine a parallel world that shows a better version of your world and you find a way to travel there. The themes explored in this book are family, friendships, the environment and war.

Willa and Manny have trouble fitting in at school and when they become friends and explore a cave one full moon they are swept away into an alternative world. When they return, no one believes them.

Bestselling author Ross Welford doesn’t disappoint when he takes us into the world of twelve-year olds, Willa, and Manny. He creates strong characters in believable worlds. I think it’s his eyes mainly: as green and as shiny as a halved kiwi fruit, and starey and sad. The language paints such vivid pictures for the reader. The dialogue reveals inner character traits and viewpoints.  I thought I’d tell you about myself.  Save time, you know? 

Information from our world is woven into the text and this makes the alternative world seem real. ‘‘All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance!’ It’s a line from a John Lennon song from ages ago in big letters.’ And we’d made pictures on the school printer of lots of peaceful people. There was Lennon himself, Martin Luther King, Jnr and Jesus, and Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa of Calcutta, and M.D Gandhi, and loads of others.’

The text builds reader knowledge and there are smaller stories within the larger story that keep the reader engaged and hooked. It is a nail biting read to see if Willa and Manny will make it back to their real world in time.

This is a thought-provoking, funny, thrilling book for readers of 10 years and up that will find its way onto many shelves. It’s imaginative and inspiring because it creates active thinking and questioning in the reader as they travel inside an engrossing story.

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