Attack of the Heebie Jeebies
Macmillan Children’s Books
Tom Percival is extremely empathetic and skilled when it comes to creating highly engaging picture books dealing with children’s emotions – think of Ravi’s Roar and Ruby’s Worry for instance.
Now comes the Dream Team series (this is the first) that aims to help slightly older readers explore childhood emotions.
Meet Erika Delgano who is far from happy. Her baby brother is getting away with everything, ruining her favourite toy, scribbling on her pictures and generally making an atrocious noise. Worse than that, her parents are too tired or even too busy to talk to her.
Angry to the point to exploding,
Erika stomps off up to bed; but, going to bed angry can result in bad dreams, an Angermare indeed. Uh-oh!
She finds herself in a very strange world with rainbow coloured trees, bouncy grass and waterfalls that flow in an upward direction. This world powered by dream crystal is the province of the Dreamteam whose role it is to protect children from Angermares and Anxietymares. However, weird creatures called Heebie Jeebies (fluffy beings with fangs) have invaded Erika’s dream and are consuming it.
They also steal a vital object – a powerful dream crystal – that could assist the girl in returning home safely, worries overcome, before the end of the dream cycle. The alternative is that she remains forever trapped in the Dreamscape.
With a host of weird characters in addition to the titular ones,
including a stoneman Wade and Madam Hettyforth, Tom has deftly, sensitively and with gentle humour, woven together a wonderful story with several threads, that explores angry feelings and their management.
With a purple colour theme, his fantastic illustrations are full of wonderful details and add to the impact of the book.
The development of emotional literacy in children is crucial if they are to grow up confident, happy, well-adjusted individuals. Tom deserves accolades for his contribution to that end in a way that encourages both self-reflection and conversation.
Whether or not there’s a new sibling at home, this is a corking book for home or school reading.
A Case of the Jitters
The second adventure begins with Erika contemplating a notice about the school talent show and desperately trying to think of a talent of her own to perform when suddenly she receives a communication via the magic crystal from Silas of the Dream Team. They have a rather tricky case and her help is required with a girl named Chanda Anand.
Chanda is decidedly lacking in confidence, her dreams being haunted by a jittery dark shadow that refuses to go away, even in the daytime, such is its power.
Now it’s up to the Dream Team to help her regain control of both her dreams and her life. It certainly won’t be an easy task, but courageous Erika isn’t one to give up easily. Could it be that she does indeed have a special talent?
Another superb read (you have to work on your inner demons in order to deal with those outside of you) wherein friendship features strongly, anxiety is got to grips with and self-belief emerges. And, another set of terrific illustrations, this time with yellow, and some great new characters including a boxing kangaroo.
What next for Erika in Dreamteam story 3?