Alex Neptune: Dragon Thief by David Owen
Alex and his friends must rescue the mythical sea dragon in this adventure for ages 9+. Review originally published on the Just Imagine website.
Every year, the town of Haven Bay hosts a festival, celebrating the local legend of the Water Dragon. Legend has it, the Dragon used to grant people powers: the ability to breathe underwater, speak to sea creatures and live unusually long lives. However, the tourists that normally flock to Haven Bay have not been coming, due to the rise in litter, plastic and oil floating in the ocean, which coincided with the arrival of the mysterious ‘Station’. Local boy, Alex Neptune, has avoided going in or near the sea his whole life, convinced that its inhabitants mean him harm. When sea creatures begin following him home and he dreams of being trapped in the abandoned aquarium, Alex can’t help thinking that everything is connected. With his best friends Zoey and Anil, he sets out to find the cause of all the pollution and, in doing so, he discovers his family’s links to the Water Dragon which have given him special powers.
This is a humorous and action-packed adventure with a diverse cast of characters. The main plot involves a mysterious company who have purposefully polluted the bay to weaken the last Water Dragon and capture it to then sell it to the highest bidder. The children find out that the Water Dragon keeps the ocean clean and that removing the last one will mean the oceans will be poisoned permanently. Alex’s own grandmother was one of the legendary people who gained powers from the Water Dragon, which emerge in Alex as the Dragon tries to reach out to him once it is trapped.
The theme of pollution in the oceans is a relevant and crucial topic for schools. However, while the legend provides an explanation for Alex’s powers to emerge, it would be important to question the message that a mythical creature can come and clean up a man-made problem. The positive mindset of the characters in investigating the problem in the first place does demonstrate that we can all help in our own way and provides a good opportunity to discuss what we can do as individuals to help clean up the oceans.
This is an engaging and entertaining story, the first in a new series. It would be a great addition to any class or school library and make an enjoyable story time book for Key Stage 2.