I really enjoyed The Secret Dragon even though it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I guess I was anticipating this story to be firmly grounded in the fantasy genre but, actually, I feel it has more of an historical science basis – with a fantasy twist!
Don’t let anyone stop you being who you want to be.
This is the motto 11-year-old Mari lives by after the loss of her scientist father. She has much more of an interest in exploring the past through her love of fossil-hunting than helping her Mum take care of the living animals on their farm. She is determined to become a palaeontologist and, whilst exploring the coastline of South Wales makes an astonishing discovery: a living dragon!
She decides to keep Gweeb – a wyvern only heard of in legends – a secret. Of course, Gweeb doesn’t understand that Mari’s discovery is meant to be a secret which leads to all sorts of capers as the rather mischievous and curious dragon wants to explore the world.
Mari is rather a complicated young girl. She does not have any friends at school and is unwilling to play games to be popular. Instead, she is single-minded and fiercely independent in her determination to realise her dream of becoming a scientist. I really felt for her as she struggled to form friendships, build a closer bond with her mother and admit hidden truths to herself.
What starts out as a scientific study turns into much more as Mari forms a mutual bond of friendship with Gweeb which I found really endearing. Mari cares for her wyvern’s needs as a living creature and not a study; she protects it from harm; and, she trusts in this tiny creature when danger arrives.
I enjoyed the STEM focus in this story including the references to Mary Anning, Mari’s own ambition to become a scientist and the fossil facts at the end of the story.
This story ends in a way which sets up the next book in the series perfectly. I’m really looking forward to seeing where Mari’s and Gweeb’s adventures take them next …