Family Newsletters
sponsord by
Amazing baby
« Back

Your book reviews

Send in your own review

Darwin's Dragons

Darwin's Dragons

Lindsay Galvin
Chicken House Ltd
ISBN: 9781912626465

Syms Covington was taken on to the Beagle as cabin boy and fiddler, but has spent the past two years acting as assistant to Mr Darwin, a young scientist, as he explores the Galapagos Islands. However, an accident during a storm leaves him shipwrecked and alone in an inhospitable place, struggling to survive. Here, he makes an incredible discovery which will change his life forever.

Darwin's Dragons mingles truth and imagination to create a fabulous story. To create her character Syms, Lindsay Galvin has used a real cabin boy and fiddler of that name on board the Beagle who was promoted to Darwin's assistant, instantly showing children what a little research and a lot of creativity can do. The novel is perfect for any class looking at the Year 6 science 'Evolution and Inheritance' and 'working scientifically' objectives, but offers so much more than this.

When shipwrecked on Narborough Island, Syms is helped by a lizard which he calls Farthing. The relationship between these two is developed beautifully, amid stunning descriptions of the island and its flora and fauna. Syms' time on the island is full of fear and tension as he faces danger from volcanic activity - and a dragon which lives there. With Farthing's help, Syms rescues the dragon's eggs, and escapes to sea where, miraculously, he is rescued by the Beagle.

Once back in London, when the eggs hatch, they are considered to be an exotic lizards with Syms alone recognising the truth. When his beloved dragons are rehomed at the London Zoological Society, Syms struggle to accept the attitude many, including Mr Darwin, have to the fate and well-being of the creatures there. This offers many excellent opportunities for discussions about historical attitudes to 'specimens' as well as current ones, the need for conservation, the role of zoos, etc.

The attention to detail throughout the story is wonderful, creating a book rich in historical detail as well as exciting adventure. There is a map showing the Beagle's voyage at the beginning of the story and notes at the end offering further information and a timeline of Darwin's life. The covers fold out to show maps, sketches, notes and pictures, perfect for inspiring further investigation and discovery.

The perfect blend of fact and fantasy, Darwin's Dragons offers much to discuss, but more to enjoy.

256 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher


Reading Zone logo Family Zone menu Young Adult ChildrensZone SchoolZone Library zone
Which Food Will You Choose
ReadingZone Book Shop

Book of the week

Meet the Author

ONE LITTLE BIRD, a gorgeous picture book by SHERYL WEBSTER and illustrator HELEN SHOESMITH, provides a valuable lesson on working together to solve a problem and a wonderful environmental reminder of our role in looking after the planet.

Read more