An Unexpected Adventure by Kandi J Wyatt starts the way many movies and books for middle grade children start: a group of friends find something totally unexpected that they must hide from the adults and authorities in their lives. In this case, a search for thunder eggs (a type of roundish stone with agate and crystals in the center) on the local beach of a small coastal town turns up a very strange stone that eventually hatches into a dragon. Will, Chace, Harley and Cherise fall in love with the baby dragon and must figure out how to raise it while keeping it hidden and safe. Of course, the dragon has no idea why the children keep warning it, escapes, and starts eating sheep and engendering sightings that bring in soldiers to hunt it down.
That’s the premise for a story that is about friendship, growth, loyalty, and understanding. Each child has different characteristics, life situations, and ways of coping. Some of them have stressful lives in ways that many readers should be able to identify with. They were all sweet kids, respectful to adults and to each other.
a story that is about friendship, growth, loyalty, and understanding.
Unfortunately, the adults in the book are not so carefully delineated, and indeed, most of them never rise above the level of cardboard or cliche. And one of the adults, an undercover agent masquerading as a professor is absolute senseless in his behavior and speech. He is the bad guy with no nuance, only wanting to capture the dragon and dissect it.
Another problem I had with the book was my difficulty in understanding what age the kids were. I must have blinked when it was first mentioned because I spent the first half of the book bouncing between thinking these were tweeners, high schoolers, and junior highers. Their thought processes and speech bounced all over the grade levels, and I was surprised to finally find out they were eighth graders.
I found many things to like about the book. The descriptions of small-town coastal living were absolutely lovely. The different jobs the children had were fascinating. And the explanation for how a dragon egg ended up on a beach was a thing of wonder.
the explanation for how a dragon egg ended up on a beach was a thing of wonder.
The book is easy and quick to read. If your child has ever visited a west coast beach, I think this book will fire their imagination.
Violence: Very little.
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy