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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Dream-Shifter by Lois Wickstrom is a magical coming-of-age story that finds a young girl trapped in the form of an elk. Gwendolyn has a unique ability: at night when she’s dreaming, she can turn into various animals. When she wakes up in the morning, she returns to herself, but a problem arises due to an unfortunate alarm. She wakes up still in the form of an elk and unsure of how to return to normal, just as the hunting season approaches. Though she may look like an elk on the outside, she still feels like herself on the inside but that won’t help her get to journalism camp. She only has one option: to seek help from a magician that will train her and help her find a way back to herself.
The plot revolves around Gwendolyn’s ability, with the story going from a dream adventure full of wonder to an obstacle she has to overcome. Her coming-of-age journey stems from an ability that’s used as a metaphor for growing up, understanding death, and self-discovery. Learning to control this ability allows her to discover more about who she is and how this gift defines her. Lois Wickstrom’s story brings to life the magic of dreams and a love of animals through Gwendolyn. Aged twelve, she’s dealing with what growing up means such as telling herself that she’s supposed to have outgrown being squeamish. By being trapped as an elk, Gwendolyn starts to learn more about herself while also coming to have a new appreciation for animals and their lives, including the plight of an elk during the hunting season.
Humor is casually incorporated into the story such as how Gwendolyn deals with simple tasks when she’s an elk such as turning the pages of a book with her hooves. Her desire to go to journalism camp creates an underlying desperation to remove this obstacle as she can’t get to her interview and go camping if she’s an elk. This delivers a fun plot woven with magic and humor in a story that children will love. A delightfully original adventure, Dream-Shifter breathes life into a magical exploration of dreaming, growing up, and animal rights; a story that’s humorous and creative.