The Long-Lost Secret Diary of the World's Worst Dinosaur Hunter

illus. by Sarah Horne. 216p. Jolly Fish. Sept. 2018. Tr $28.50. ISBN 9781631631955.
Gr 3–5—This epistolary novel follows the exploits of Ann, a young fossil hunter from a coastal town in Britain. Ann hunts along the rocky shoreline each morning for the "fish lizard bones" that her father sells as cure-alls to unsuspecting tourists. Ann believes she is inherently unlucky. Her luck seems to change the day Mr. William Armstrong, a fossil enthusiast, comes to town. Mr. Armstrong is impressed by Ann's finds and facilitates a fossil hunting trip to the American West. That is where the real adventure begins, rife with hijinks, villainy, and humor. This fictional tale is littered with interesting historical facts through the "Get Real" segments included in each chapter. A time line of dinosaur history is included, as well as biographical sketches of the real people on which the fictional characters are loosely based. The beginning of the book is a little disorienting—it is initially unclear who is narrating and from what time period—but readers who stick with it will be rewarded by a funny and enlightening story.
VERDICT A humorous and informative read fitting for middle graders interested in paleontology.

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