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My Name is River

My Name is River

Published: 6 Aug 2020

Paperback / softback, 304 pages

Recommended for age 9+

By Emma Rea

Published by Firefly Press Ltd

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When Dylans' farm is snatched away by a huge global company, he can't just sit back and watch. But the journey to rescue his home takes him deep into the heart of the Amazon. With the help of Lucia, a street kid armed with a thesaurus and a Great Dane puppy, he uncovers dark and dangerous secrets and learns some surprising truths.

Tagged environment and green issues

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Reviewed by Jo Bowers

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.

Jo Bowers is a Principal Lecturer in Primary Education (Literacy) at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She joined the university ten years ago and prior to that was a classroom teacher and English leader in a primary school for nineteen years. Jo has been editor of, and currently sits on the Editorial Board of English 4-11 for the English Association and the UKLA Publications Committee. Jo runs an Open University Reading for Pleasure Teacher Group for teachers in Cardiff and sits on various shortlisting and selection panels for children's book awards, currently the English Association Picture Book Award and the Books Council of Wales Tir na n-Og Award. Jo is a Wales representative for UKLA, reviews books for Just Imagine and writes for English 4-11. She is passionate about children's literature and is happiest when she is reading and surrounded by books.
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