Friday 14 October 2022

The Book of Stolen Dreams

The Book of Stolen Dreams by David Farr (Usborne) HB RRP $19.99 ISBN 9781801310840 

Reviewed by Nikki M Heath 

In an authoritarian dictatorship which detests children above all, siblings Rachel and Robert are left to take over a dangerous mission after their father is arrested. Having grown up largely confined to their small apartment, with only their father’s lively imagination as escape, the children now need to decode a mystery and foil the heinous plans of the dictator.

This is a devastatingly difficult read in parts, perhaps more so for adults than the target 9-and-up audience. Reading it as Russian forces entered Ukraine, while the characters reminisced on their childhoods led in hiding and the even more difficult paths awaiting them, was particularly heartbreaking. A testament to the emotional impact of the character building, together with some genuine narrative tension.

While there are fantastical elements, the tale feels grittily real, and combines adventure, quest and war story in a way that feels very up to date. Note there are descriptions of violence, including the use of guns, but otherwise nothing challenging from a content perspective.

With its echoing, poignant beauty, this book will linger in the hearts and minds of mid-to-upper primary readers long after they turn the final page. The upcoming sequel will be anxiously awaited.

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