cover image The Bone Wars

The Bone Wars

Kathryn Lasky. Morrow Junior Books, $12.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-688-07433-3

In the 1870s, while western Indians fought to defend their lands from white encroachment, British and American paleontologists competed for discovery of large fossils in the region. Sometimes, as when scientist dug for bones in sacred places, these scenarios intertwined, presenting an interesting dramatic situation that is one aspect of Lasky's well-researched and complicated book. Complexity, however, is the downfall of the long and unwieldy plotting. The paths of Thad, a skilled American digger, and his fellow hero Julian, whose father leads the British excavation, cross late in the story. While there are plenty of adventures, fascinating cameos, and intriguing suggestions about the ethics of the characters, the story never finds its central course. The viewpoint shifts confusingly, and personal crises of Julian and Thad's are poorly developed. Their pivotal finda triceratops headis given away in the cover illustration. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)