The New Cadets

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A magical tale in which stuffed animals become real and work to protect vulnerable children from nightmares, Marjorie Burns’ The New Cadets is a tender and warm-hearted story that should engage both youngsters and those who read to/with them. Full of loveable and amusing doggy characters, as well as a fair bit of action and adventure, it would make for an entertaining and reassuring bedtime story.

Oliver is a large stuffed Yellow Labrador, so large in fact that he can’t fit on the lower shelves of the toy store, which means he has been placed at a good vantage point to keep watch over all the customers and employees. However, he’s still surprised when a smartly dressed man approaches him and begins to speak in the language of toys. What’s more, the man can hear and understand Oliver’s replies, something that has never happened before.

The man tells Oliver that he works for the Bureau of Dreams recruiting Dream Rangers, a group of toy dogs dedicated to helping children deal with bad dreams. It sounds like a laudable and exciting endeavor, and after a brief thought, Oliver agrees to join up. He travels with the man and his partner to a secret facility where he is introduced to the other new Dream Ranger cadets and learns more about what is involved.

The next stage of the recruitment process takes place at the Academy. This is when Oliver and his new friends learn that being a Dream Ranger means becoming a flesh and blood dog, which leads to some hijinks as they attempt to gain control of their suddenly moveable bodies. They also discover that being a Dream Ranger is not without danger—for both the Ranger and the child whose dreams need protecting—and that there are evil forces determined to sabotage the process.

The New Cadets is based on a really lovely idea—that is, stuffed animals coming to life and helping children—which is sure to appeal to young readers. It does seen written to be read to youngsters rather than by them, however, as it is a lengthy book featuring quite complex text. Relatedly, some sections of the book drag, which detracts from the exciting underlying story and might lose the attention of young readers. Saying that, the camaraderie among the dogs, their various shenanigans, and the dangers they face are much more gripping.

Moreover, The New Cadets features charming black and white illustrations by Carolyn Wilhelm throughout, which capture key scenes from the story and reflect the attributes of the major characters. The images of the various dogs, whether in stuffed or real form, are particularly cute and appealing, although all the illustrations should engage and interest young readers.

Overall, The New Cadets should amuse and entertain dog-loving youngsters (and their caregivers), and given the brave exploits of the Dream Rangers, it will hopefully ensure that they don’t have to worry about nightmares.

Reviewed By:

Author Marjorie Burns
Star Count 3.5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 275 pages
Publisher The Gabbro Head Press
Publish Date 15-Apr-2024
ISBN 97817325799 Buy this Book
Issue March 2024
Category Children's