The Case of the Missing Dinosaur Egg by June Whyte

CASE
The Case of the Missing Dinosaur Egg by June Whyte
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Young Adult, Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (77 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Age Recommendation: 12+
Reviewed by Astilbe

Chiana Ryan, PI (sort of) is deep in the middle of an exciting mystery, and everything is coming up eggs. First there’s the 120-million-year-old dinosaur egg that disappears from its stand at the museum. Then there’s the shed full of eggs she stumbles across while investigating crazy Professor T. Goodenough’s scary signs.

What do these eggs have in common? What are the strange creatures hatching from the eggs in Professor Goodenough’s shed? And how can Chiana find time to follow clues when the owner of Treehaven Riding School keeps her busy riding and looking after the horses?

Chiana and her friends are determined to crack the case, even when the clues bring them to the egg thieves themselves. Suddenly, it’s horses against motor bikes in a desperate race for survival…

Can a stolen Therizinosaur egg laid millions of years ago actually hatch? How does a girl go about solving the mystery of what happened to it when her mother insists on shipping her off to a ranch in the middle of nowhere for two weeks?

Chiana may have a knack for getting into scrapes but she’s also good at navigating her way out of them again. At twelve years old she’s just beginning to understand why her mother disapproves of her tendency to get caught up in adult investigations but this doesn’t mean that Chiana will stop acting like a private investigator anytime soon. Her witty and sometimes sarcastic opinion of how the adults around her handle delicate situations injects some much needed humour into the plot. While The Case of the Missing Dinosaur Egg appears to be part of a series I was not familiar with the earlier stories when I picked this book up. I had no trouble understanding what was happening or how everyone knew each other.

My major concern about Chiana is how her relationship with her step-sister, Sarah, is portrayed by Ms. Whyte. Chiana is an intelligent, brave, and resourceful girl who hates the thought of dressing up while Sarah is described as a natural beauty who is obsessed with wearing flattering outfits and making sure every hair is in place even after a long afternoon of training with her horse. The dichotomy between Chiana and Sarah seems out of place. Why can’t a girl love fashion and running around in the woods solving mysteries?

Professor Goodenough helped to make up for the odd relationship between Sarah and Chiana. I sympathized with his efforts to keep nosy kids off of his property. Farms can be full of dangerous objects and creatures and it completely made sense that the professor would want to limit his legal liability.  His sense of humour was also well developed and unflappable. It would have been amusing to observe certain scenes through his perspective as Chiana’s understanding of what is happening is only tangentially related to Professor Goodenough’s point of view.

This tale doesn’t contain any material that is inappropriate for readers age 10 or older. Some of the vocabulary used might be too difficult for younger preteens, though, which is why I’m recommending it for the 12+ age group, but younger children with more advanced reading skills would enjoy it, too.

The Case of the Missing Dinosaur Egg is a classic young adult novel in the best sense of the term. Despite a handful references to modern day books and movies I could see it being popular with late elementary and middle school students for many years to come. It is a good choice for reluctant and avid readers alike and I look forward to recommending it to young friends and relatives in the future.

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