In conversational, splendidly descriptive prose, Magliano invites young readers on an absorbing quest as the bone reveals its exciting secrets, and Wences works to understand the mystical remains with the help of his friends Matteo and Jeanine, rediscovers his love of adventure–and travels to an otherworldly realm in the process. For all the excitement and fun of an exciting new world where dinosaurs roam and a carcharodontosaurus named Akheilos snacks on tortilla chips in the kitchen, the book’s greatest strength is its keen understanding of Wences’ inner world–his relatable teen angst and frustration, made sharper by the heartache that he can’t quite articulate.
Magliano displays impressive, scientifically accurate dinosaur knowledge that will appeal to even the most discerning aspiring paleontologist. This book’s thrilling voyage is made even richer by author/artist Magliano’s emotionally resonant illustrations, which suggest both the best comic books and an artist’s private journal entries, and the fantasy story's strong connection to Wences’ real-world challenges, offering an insightful look at self-discovery and grief that young readers will find encouraging and inspiring.
Takeaway: This engrossing middle-grade fantasy blends an insightful look at self-discovery and grief with a realm where dinosaurs roam.
Great for fans of: Jess Redman’s The Miraculous, Laura Martin’s Edge of Extinction series.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
What to Expect: Family, grief, dinosaurs, magic
From a gut-wrenching nightmare to his little brother breaking his favorite model dinosaur, Wenceslao is having a terrible day—that is, until he finds the fossil in his garden. Wences knows the Carcharodontosaurus tooth should not have been there, but once he’s dug it up, everything starts to change. Suddenly, Wences is having the same weird dreams that made his dad and grandpa famous as paleontologists, while the tooth takes on more life moment by moment and its spirit stalks through his dreams. As Wences and his friends try to work out what it all means, they face a journey into another world—and their own hearts.
Any parent of a child obsessed with dinosaurs knows just how irresistible these prehistoric wonders are. The Garden Bone brings that obsession to life with breathtaking attention to scientific detail and a bone-deep understanding of childhood emotions. Wenceslao is a thoroughly relatable, endearing protagonist, whose ups and downs would keep the reader gripped even if it weren’t for the exciting adventure narrative. The story is rich with details, from Wences’ Abuela’s Argentinian Spanish to the barbed exchanges of Wences’ classmates. Edgy comic-book-style illustrations help bridge the distance between middle-grade and tween, as well as giving readers a peek inside Wences’ head.
The Garden Bone is a beautifully written and completely engrossing story, blending scientific fact with roller-coaster fantasy.