Into the sideways world by Ross Welford

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Ross Welford was born in a small seaside town in the north-east of England. This is his 7th book since his popular debut Time travelling with a hamster was published in 2016. With his previous books Welford has firmly set himself as an entertainer of readers 10+. His stories all include elements of sci-fi/fantasy set against a realistic backdrop based around the town of his birth.

Into the sideways world follows this formula and introduces two 12-year-old outsiders, Willa and Manny. It is the year 2031 and they are investigating sightings of a mysterious animal in their town. One night they suddenly find themselves in an alternate world.

Willa and Manny are stunned – while their own world has survived a pandemic but is close to war, this world is perfect. There’s no pollution, no rundown properties, no family arguments, no diseases and no world conflict.

Willa has a contact in her own world who may be the key to figuring out the link between worlds, if only she can get back. But do she and Manny even want to leave this ideal world? And if they do, will anyone believe what they have seen?

This story is full of adventure and humour while also being thought-provoking and including some difficult relationships and tough choices. There are subtle references to environmental issues, history and global politics. The chapters are short with lots of cliff-hangers – be prepared for desperate pleas to ‘keep going!’ if reading aloud.

There are no teacher resources for this book as Welford is of the opinion that teachers know best. But in an interview with The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education in the UK he said 'Into The Sideways World could, I imagine, provoke some interesting class discussions on how we might begin to 'change the world'.' It also raises the question of whether you would opt for your own loved yet imperfect reality when faced with the choice of a perfect world instead.

Themes: Fantasy, Adventure, Relationships, Future, Environment.

Kylie Grant