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Volume VIII Number 12 . . . . February 15, 2002
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.
Tony Payzant is a content editor living in Dartmouth, NS.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.