Gr 4-6-- Chicagoan Alec Wright, 11, spends the summer with his archeologist mother at a dig in Montana headed by his grandfather, a famous paleontologist nicknamed ``Dr. Dinosaur.'' The boy's search is threefold: to dig for dinosaur bones; to solve the mystery of valuable missing fossils; and to discover why his grandfather is so cold and distant toward him. Carris conveys with excitement the awe of finding a 70 million-year-old fossil and palatably provides technical information about paleontology, including suggestions for where to find such digs. Alec's relationship with his grandfather, and the approval he seeks from this initially gruff man, are touchingly and realistically portrayed. While the mystery's innocent solution is difficult to believe and anticlimactic, the plot moves along swiftly. --Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
When dinosaur fossils disappear from his grandfather's dig, Alec secretly vows to solve the mystery in order to win the love of his strangely distant and even hostile grandparent. Enlisting the aid of Rina, the only other kid in the area, he snoops, observes, and makes deductions when he's not helping with the dig, fishing for dinner, or conferring with his partner in crime solving. Readers with an interest in fossils will find the details of life at the dinosaur camp intriguing. While the plot seems contrived at times, the Montana locale is original, and Carris handles Alec's shifting emotions well. To be illustrated with black-and-white line drawings.