• Rachel Moore

Book Reviews: A Series To Get Kids Hooked


Rachel Moore reviews the first two titles in the series for mature junior readers. These books deal with many of the issues our kids face and gives them techniques to cope. You can read the excerpt from the first book, Awa and the Dreamrealm.

Note that any purchases made from the links provided will not be dispatched until after the Covid-19 Alert Level decreases to a level where Aotearoa's bookshops are operational again.

Awa and the Dreamworld and Into The Labyrinth, by Isa Pearl Ritchie

Life isn’t going well for Awa. Her parents have recently divorced, which has meant saying goodbye to the large house she grew up in, her old school, her old friends; and hello to a new school, a small apartment, no friends and less time with her parents. She feels out of control, and powerless to make any changes. The only place to escape from her reality is her dreams.

In her dreams, Awa finds herself drawn into a quest to save the Dreamrealm from a threat that could destroy it forever. It will require courage and insight that she doesn’t believe she has. And in real life, she is having to deal with being the favoured target of the school bully. It’s a lot for a 12-year-old to cope with!

In her dreams, Awa finds herself drawn into a quest to save the Dreamrealm from a threat that could destroy it forever. It will require courage and insight that she doesn’t believe she has.

These two books (there’s a third planned for August 2020) deal with some really big life concepts. I don’t know how many young readers would pick up on, but I counted bullying, racism, anxiety, divorce, first crushes, friendship, change, control, the nature of reality, spirituality, and mindfulness as I was reading. Māori spirituality is also woven through these themes, particularly in Into the Labyrinth.

These issues are things that I know our young people today deal with, and they are handled well by Isa Pearl Ritchie. I particularly like the way she has Awa learn how to manage her overwhelming anxiety – it’s a classic writer’s trick of showing not telling, and readers may not realise they’re getting a master class in breathing skills! I do hope they think to apply that to their own lives when life feels a bit much.

I particularly like the way she has Awa learn how to manage her overwhelming anxiety...and readers may not realise they’re getting a master class in breathing skills!

The story arcs are satisfying, as Awa discovers what she needs to learn and do to be successful in her own life as well as the dream realm, and pieces of the puzzle are gradually revealed. By the end of each book the current challenge is resolved, but with the knowledge that there is another one to be faced. I’m looking forward to August, and finding out how Awa copes when she’s faced with her biggest challenge yet.

awa and the dreamrealm

by Isa Pearl Ritchie Te Ra Aroha Press RRP $22.99

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into the labyrinth

by Isa Pearl Ritchie Te Ra Aroha Press RRP $22.99

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Rachel moore

Rachel Moore is a experienced primary school teacher who lives on the Kapiti Coast. Some of her earliest memories are of bed time stories read with her dad, and she has made it her mission to try to pass on her love of books to every child she meets. Her childhood literary heroes are Jo March, Lucy Pevensie, Matilda Wormwood and Elizabeth Bennet. When she grows up, Rachel hopes she'll be able to live in a house big enough for all her books.

#BookReview #rachelmoore #IsaPearlRitchie #AwaandtheDreamrealm #intothelabyrinth #Anxiety #maorispirituality #Bullying #divorce #racism #friendship