Publisher: Nimbus Publishing
Release year: 2010
Genre: MG mystery
One sentence summary: The Nancy Drew of Canada, eh.
Rating:5 out of 5
Review copy from author through publisher
Thirteen-year-old Grace already has too much going on — grieving over her father’s mysterious death, dealing with her distraught mother’s erratic parenting, and evading her creepy nosy neighbour, Mr. Stuckless, just for starters. She and her friends Fred, Mai, and Jeeter like to get away from it all by hunting for fossils near their secret hideaway, the abandoned mine they’ve nicknamed The Black Hole. But when Grace receives a strange note regarding her father’s death, it sets off a chain of events that sees Grace and her friends turning into detectives to solve the mystery behind his suspicious accident. As the clues and suspects start piling up and the investigation becomes more and more dangerous, Grace and her friends find themselves racing against time through treacherous sinkholes and abandoned mine shafts to figure out what really happened to her father.
I forgot how much I loved a great middle grade mystery. When I was in grade six I got into Eric Wilson’s Tom and Liz Austin mysteries and started dreaming of being a writer when I grew up. Reading The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines took me back to those days and left me with a happy, glowy feeling.
This was a smart mystery. I mean, I’m 36 and there was stuff that I didn’t figure out. But once things were resolved, it was easy to look back and go “Ah, so THAT’S what happened!”. A lot takes place in The Fossil Hunters of Sydney Mines but it was all great. I mean, getting to read about the tar ponds? My Mom lost her grade 8 math book in those tar ponds. I love reading books about local places.
Grace was a great character. In fact ALL the characters were great. Her friends were fun to read about, each bringing something different to the story. And there was much talk of chocolate. How could you not love that?
Oh, you know what else The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines reminded me of? Scooby Doo!! It totally had a “those meddling kids” kinda vibe to it. Loved that.
I know this might not be an uber helpful review, but you know how I get when I love a book. I kinda go into blathering mode. If you enjoy MG fiction or have kids that read, go out and buy The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines. Just trust me.
Oh and now I get to do a bit of a neener-neener. I get to meet Jo Ann this Sunday at Word on the Street in Halifax. If you’re reading this Jo Ann, expect a total fan-girl moment.