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Darwin's Dragons- Lindsay Galvin

1835. Cabin boy Syms Covington is on the voyage of a lifetime to the Galapagos Islands with the world-famous scientist Charles Darwin.
But when Syms falls overboard during a huge storm, he washes up on an unexplored island. Stranded there, he makes a discovery that could change the world ... Now it’s not just his own survival at stake – the future of an undiscovered species is in his hands.

A fantastic mix of fact and fantasy, this adventure follows the trials and tribulations of Syms Covington, a real-life cabin boy on Darwin's Beagle, as he is lost at sea and then found again on the expedition's stop at the Galapagos Islands. Based on real life events, and a gap in the journal of the journey, Galvin cleverley fills in the gap in the facts with this incredible account of what may have taken place...

Washed up on Albemarle, Syms makes a discovery to rival any of his master's, and the ensuing story of discovery, rescue and restoration is a masterclass in gripping tale-telling, as we follow the journey back to civilisation and then Syms' battle over how to protect his discovery in the face of scientific scepticism, Royal fancy, and duty.

One of the highlights of the book for me were the relationships that developed - between Syms and his master, Darwin, and how Syms came into his own as he grew in confidence and realisation about his discovery, and also in the rleationship between Syms and Farthing, the lizard that saves hime, and who he subsequently returns the favour for, later in the book )no spoilers, but I loved the full-circle ending back on the island!).

I've been reading this to my class during lockdown, and the short chapters, with brilliant cliffhanger endings throughout, have lent the book brilliantly to this for of makes a great read aloud, as well as being a great independent story for a reader as we.. I've been using it as a reader alongside y6 topics in Science and Geography, where our study of Volcanoes and Adaptation and Evolution have been able to be linked in nicely (bringing some excitement to what can be quite a dry topic in Science at times!).

Read an extract from the book here:

I've also been dipping into the brilliant chapter by chapter resources from Scott Evans, available on the Chicken House website here:

Or via this link:

Watch Lindsay Galvin introducing and reading from Darwin's Dragons in these clips:

Order your copy (signed ones were available as I write this!) from the brilliant Book Nook independent bookshop:

Review by Rich Simpson (@richreadalot) February 2021

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1 Comment

Feb 17, 2022

Hi Richard.

My year 6 class are starting this book after half term. I've just showed them your blog and one of the class says, "We think that it would be nice for you to come in and tell us what you like about it (and books in general) one day." What do you think? Catch up soon.

Mr F

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