My Name is River is an exciting story, with an ecological theme, starting in the Welsh countryside, taking us to Brazil and the Amazon and ending back in mid-Wales. It will appeal to anyone who loves an adventure with a mystery to solve by children far away from adults!
It starts with Dylan overhearing that their farm has been sold to a global pharmaceutical company, and he then makes the decision that he has to do something to change their mind. So when half-term arrives, while Dylan’s parents think he is on a school residential geography trip, he is in fact on a plane to Brazil, with his friend Felix, who’s dad works for the company and lives in South America. As you may probably guess, things don’t go quite to plan when they arrive as they discover Felix’s dad and his younger brother Joe have gone missing. When they reach out for help, they are taken away and separated from each other. Dylan is driven out of the city centre and left alone in an impoverished part of the city. Here, he meets Lucia, a child who lives on the streets. From here on, the adventure into the Amazon begins, where together they uncover the terrible truth about what the company is up to. His quest becomes so much bigger than just saving his farm as he and Lucia discover that the company’s plans are putting in danger the lives of children, animals and the vegetation of the rainforest.
Dylan and Lucia are great characters to hold this adventure together, which speeds along as fast as the speedboat chase they have. I also really enjoyed the fun they had together playing with words too, as Lucia owns a thesaurus and has a fascination with English words. It is Lucia’s love of wordplay and meaning which leads her to discover the meaning of Dylan’s name. ‘Dy’ meaning ‘great’ and ‘llanw’ meaning ‘flow’, meaning ‘great flow’ or ‘big river’, hence the title of the book.
The book also raises many questions around the environment, ecology and the threats to these. Following on reading this with a class could encourage fruitful research into the Amazonian rainforest, Brazil and animals in danger in this part of the world too.
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