Prairie Fire Review - Dinosaur Blackout

Prairie Fire Review of Books
Reviewed by: Donna Gamache

Dinosaur Blackout is the fourth book in Judith Silverthorne's Dinosaur Adventure Series for children aged nine and up. In the previous books (Dinosaur Hideout, Dinosaur Breakout and Dinosaur Stakeout), twelve-year-old Daniel Bringham and his elderly paleontologist neighbour, Ole Pederson, discovered dinosaur artifacts on the Bringham farm, situated in the Frenchman River Valley of southwestern Saskatchewan.

Daniel's family was having financial problems and they decided to offer exploration trips of the dinosaur dig for tourists as a way of keeping their farm. But Daniel had also discovered a method of travelling back to the time of the dinosaurs, and in the second and third books he had several adventures there, first by himself, then with a couple of neighbouring boys, and later with Dr. Mildred Roost, another elderly paleontologist and a friend of Mr. Pederson.

Dinosaur Blackout continues the adventures, both in the present and the past. The story begins with Daniel and his friends discovering that their dinosaur dig on the Bringham farm has been vandalized and the Stygimoloch skeleton they were working on is gone. The Stygimoloch is valuable, the first almost whole skeleton of its kind in North America, and the group had been keeping it a secret until they could complete the excavation, but obviously someone had learned about the discovery.

The RCMP is called in but everyone is worried that the missing bones might never be found, and even if they are, they will probably be damaged. Daniel suspects that his neighbours, the Nelwins, might be involved, but he has no proof. Mr. Pederson is particularly distressed by the theft, and he and Dr. Roost decide that a trip to the past for photographs and further research might help them recover from the theft. The old couple decides to go without Daniel but he is worried that they lack the physical stamina needed should they be attacked by the prehistoric creatures. Eventually the three make several short trips to the past that are filled with excitement and danger--not just from the giant dinosaurs but from the darkening atmosphere itself, to which the title refers.

I believe most young readers will enjoy the mystery and adventures of Dinosaur Blackout. It is not necessary to have read the three previous books, as sufficient information is given to explain things, but if dinosaurs and adventures are the type of story you enjoy, you might want to begin with book one. The conclusion of Dinosaur Blackout leads us to believe that this is the final book in the series, although there are still a few unanswered questions. As in the previous books, the author has included a glossary of technical terms and a detailed bibliography for those who want additional information. Besides information on dinosaurs and the Cretaceous Period, she works into the story plenty of scientific information on global warming, the greenhouse effect, and so on.

Silverthorne is a multiple-award-winning Regina-based author. In addition to this series, she has written a couple of historical novels for young readers and non-fiction for adults. Article by Donna Gamache.

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