________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 12 . . . . February 15, 2002

cover Bone Beds of the Badlands. (A Dylan Maples Adventure).

Shane Peacock.
Toronto, ON: Penguin Canada, 2001.
195 pp., pbk., $17.99.
ISBN 0-141-00433-9.

Subject Headings:
Detective and mystery stories.
Badlands-Alberta-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Tony Payzant.

***1/2 /4


I opened my eyes. There was a hissing sound. For real. I leapt to my feet. My sleeping place was near the entrance, and no more than a metre away a prairie rattlesnake was making its way home into our cave.

"Up! UP UP UP!" I shouted to the others.

"Dylan, go to sleep," said Bomber.

"SNAKE!" I shouted. "SNAKE!"

I've never seen any of them move faster than that. Not even for the free chips and pop after our hockey games. They were up in a flash. We flattened ourselves against a wall and slid by the snake and back into the sun. Outside there were dozens of rattlesnakes baking in the heat ten metres from the cave entrance!

Badlands and killers and snakes - oh my! What an exciting tale this is, as Dylan Maples and his best friends win a trip from Toronto to Alberta to explore the eerie, fossil-rich badlands. Alas, the four grade seven boys are chaperoned by nerdy Norris Newcombe, the whiny-voiced science teacher, and his nervous wife, who prove to be major wet blankets. However, a collapsing rock ledge carries the boys away, leaving them to wander lost and hungry in the desert-like Dinosaur Provincial Park, stalked by an escaped child-killer.

     This is author Shane Peacock's third book in the "Dylan Maples Adventure" series. It is clearly thoroughly researched, offering interesting layers of paleontology, local Alberta history and geological and geographical detail sandwiched in a gripping and fast-moving plot as narrated by Dylan Maples himself. The intended audience will find the characters strongly appealing, whether they're being harangued for referring to the green rental van as the Snotmobile or debating whether Dylan's nightmare had occasioned bedwetting! The boys' academic interest in dinosaurs is paired with a very believable boyish fascination with gore ("They just ripped open their prey and swallowed big chunks whole. We all thought that was pretty cool."). The boys meet a Drumheller girl named Dorothy, and eventually overcome their misgivings about having a female companion along, as Dorothy's sense of adventure and rational thinking help to save them all.

     In Bone Beds of the Badlands, young readers will find themselves by turns frightened, amused and fascinated, and always keen to explore the next page.

Highly Recommended.

Tony Payzant is a content editor living in Dartmouth, NS.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364