4 out of 4 stars
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Fossil Detectives and the Mysterious Skull by Caren Bonds Hanson is a sci-fi/fantasy book that narrates the story of two siblings who experience an unexpected adventure.
Dante and Lexy, aged twelve and ten respectively, are volunteers at a local science center. They learn how to preserve and take care of fossils while accumulating knowledge about animal species. When a shipment from Ethiopia arrives, the children do their job diligently, unaware that there's an ancient soul trapped inside one of the skulls. In its quest to get home, the spirit sends the youngsters on a journey through time, landing them in various prehistoric periods.
Adventure is the most prominent theme in the story. Dante and Lexy's experience will give readers an adrenaline rush and leave them fearing for the youngsters' safety. I like how the siblings worked together to navigate the hostile conditions that met them at their destinations. Their ingenuity is nothing short of spectacular, and a silver lining arose from the ordeal. The children maximized the opportunity and used it to put their knowledge to practice. They brushed shoulders with different species and classified them by analyzing their features. From their debates, it's evident that one sibling paid more attention in class.
What I liked most about the book is that the author included educative elements, infusing the content in a fun and exciting manner. Readers will learn a few things about evolution, Geography, and history. Those who are past the schooling age will have an opportunity to refresh their memory. There are also multiple choice questions at the end of the book, which readers can use to test their retention. Sprinkled throughout the text are photographs and illustrations that complement the work. I found these useful because they depict various creatures, and the author also included charts on human evolution. I applaud Marissa Morris, the illustrator, for the detailed images.
The author did a stellar job at character development, presenting the lead protagonists as actual children. They were curious, imaginative, mischievous and everything in between. From the many dialogues, they respected the adults but also spoke in a manner typical of children their age. The author also uses simple language, and I appreciate this because the many evolutionary terms are sophisticated enough.
Although I noticed a few errors, mostly misspelled words, they didn't detract from the reading experience. Eliminating the typos is the only modification I would make to the book. I will award this book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars for it is an exciting read that deserves nothing less. I'll recommend it to young adults, lovers of fantasy stories, and fans of coming-of-age literature.
Fossil Detectives and the Mysterious Skull
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