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Maria Magliano

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BOOK REVIEW

THE GARDEN BONE

BY Maria Magliano • POSTED ON Dec. 12, 2021

In Magliano’s illustrated middle-grade fantasy novel, an orphaned boy discovers a living dinosaur in his backyard.

Twelve-year-old Wenceslao Killean’s parents were paleontologists who died suddenly three years ago in a dig-related accident. Wences, now raised by his grandmother, whom everyone calls Abuela, in Berkeley, California, is also a paleontologist at heart, and after losing his parents, he gives all but one of his toy dinosaurs to his brother, Nico. One day, he finds what appears to be a fossilized dinosaur tooth in his backyard. To his surprise, the tooth quickly starts changing; its color goes from black to white, then some blood and gum tissue appear on it. The following day, the tooth disappears completely—and before long, Wences finds an entire, real dinosaur in his backyard. It’s a Carcharodontosaurus, which lived “during the Cretaceous Period…in North Africa.” It also appears to be a specific dino named Akheilos, which has appeared repeatedly in Wences’ dreams. Later, another prehistoric creature shows up; then, Wences, his friend Matteo, and classmate Jeanine meet an eccentric man named Kessan, who takes them through a portal to another world full of wondrous creatures. Like some of her young readers, Magliano clearly knows her dinosaurs, which she describes throughout this book in accurate detail—and her adept storytelling during the kids’ portal adventure will keep readers engaged, as well. Throughout, the young characters’ conversations feel realistic, as when Jeanine initially expresses skepticism to Wences that the Carcharodontosaurus exists: “Like, how big, exactly?”…“Pretty big. You can’t miss it.” The occasional, full-color illustrations add to the story, and they feature Wences’ comments, as if written on the images by the character himself.

A story that will appeal to potential paleontologists and other kids who love epic adventures.

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2021

ISBN: 979-8782259501

Page count: 320pp

Publisher: Independently Published

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2022