Tom Percival is an expert when it comes to producing books that deal with childhood emotions - Ruby’s Worry and Ravi’s Roar being two of my personal favourites. The Dream Team: Attack of the Heebie Jeebies is the first in a series of books that explore childhood emotions for readers of six and up.
Erika Is not happy. Her younger brother Randall is getting away with everything - destroying her toys, ruining her work and making a lot of noise. To make matters worse, Randall is getting lots of love and attention and Erika can’t get either of her parents to play with her or listen to her. After a particularly bad day and ready to explode with anger she heads to bed. But anger at bed time can lead to angry dreams and that can put you in the path of an Angermare.
Erika’s hopes of an anger free sleep are quickly dashed when she finds herself in a very strange world and meets a creature who can only say, “Heebie Jeebie.” She has entered the Dreamscape, the home of the Dream Team. The Dream Team are like dream police making sure children can sleep peacefully at night and it is their job to keep sleepers safe from Angermares and Anxietymares.
But the Heebie Jeebies are out to eat dreams and they have taken a particular liking to Erika’s. With her dream being eaten and an Angermare chasing her, Erika needs all the help of the Dream Team if she is to make it out of the Dreamscape alive.
Full of wacky characters, a world where nothing makes sense (anything can happen in the Dreamscape) and some furry little creatures that are far from friendly this is a most enjoyable of reads. There is lots going on - Erika is trying to make it back home and not get caught by an Angermare. The Dream Team are trying to defeat their biggest challenge yet. And the Heebie Jeebies are desperately trying to eat all of the dream crystal. Percival weaves all of these stories together and through it he sensitively explores feelings of anger.
As the story progresses, Erika learns that her feelings of anger and anxiety are normal but it is important to not let these emotions become overpowering and controlling. As Erika learns to manage her feelings the Angermare that is chasing her throughout the story begins to shrink. I liked that Erika was ultimately able to reflect on why she got so upset, rationalise her feelings and apologise to those that she hurt.
I love the use of a single colour theme for the illustrations and this time Percival has chosen purple. Early on, the purple literally explodes off of the page as Erika loses all control.
It is exciting, it is imaginative, it is funny and it deals with real issues without being over the top about it. A great read for opening up conversations on different feelings, why we feel the way we do and what we can do to manage those feelings.
Recommended for 6+.