Sandra Bennett’s “Fossil Frenzy” is the third book in an Adventure Series of stand-alone stories for the age group 8 years plus. It is about 3 Australian siblings who are smart, aware and at home in the Australian outdoors. The eldest brother Zac tells the story in first person and this makes it totally relatable to the fun things that ordinary Australian children like to do. His sister Clare, a bright spark with a broad general knowledge and love of animals, and little brother Luke, a mischievous knock-around boy who likes getting into trouble and carries around a bottomless backpack, make up the trio.
As an ex-teacher, Sandra is passionate about getting children to read, and her Adventure Series demonstrates that Sandra knows how to present information children are curious to know in an entertaining and interesting way. This was acknowledged by the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards 2019 when the first book in the series “Secrets Hidden Below” was Short-listed. It was also Longlisted in the Sisters in Crime Davitt Awards 2019. Book Two, “A Lighthouse in Time” was Longlisted in the Sisters in Crime Davitt Awards 2020.
“Fossil Frenzy” is a time-slip adventure. It is a lament to the harshness of drought-ridden Central Queensland in present day juxtaposed against the lushness of rainforest in the same location during the middle to late Cretaceous period; and, that means dinosaurs!
A convergence of two tropical storms catch the children unawares while they are on a camping trip looking for fossils that they hope will generate interest from archaeologists and much needed funds to save their uncle’s farm. When they take shelter in a cave with mysterious wall paintings, something happens while they sleep – a time portal opens. And, they wake the next morning to find that they have gone back in time and have become stranded in the past. They wonder if they’ll ever get back to their own time or if they’ve gone too far.
Children love dinosaurs – they really enjoy reading about them and imagining all sorts of giganticsus adventures with them and it was fabulous to read about Australian animals during the dinosaur period and how dangerous they could be: the Demon Duck of Doom also known as Bullockornis Planei or Thunderbird, meat eaters like the Megaraptor and the Australovemator Wintonensis, and the Giant Echidna or Zaglossus Hacketti, one of whom befriends and helps the children through the dangers of the forest and whom the children call “Spike”.
Sandra Bennet, within the adventure, provides explanations for the terminology used, for example, when the children are chased by a dinosaur that runs on two hind legs, they took cover high in the branches of a tree and Zac says “That’s a Megaraptor. It’s a Therapod, so it’s carnivorous.” Not only does the author give definitions and explanations in an easy-to-read way as the plot unravels, she also teaches about the terrain and plant life during the Cretaceous period in central Queensland.
The themes of “Fossil Frenzy” are how the world has changed environmentally over time and that there is always a way back.
These are great ideas for teachers to take into a classroom and there is so much information weaved within the plot that this book would be an excellent resource for teachers introducing classrooms to dinosaurs and this exciting period in Australian history.
This informative and well written book contains nineteen chapters, a map of Central Queensland south of the Landsborough Highway between Winton and Longreach where the action takes place that readers can follow as they read the book, a glossary of terms relevant to the Cretaceous period, a list of resources for further reading if teachers and children wish, and acknowledgements and notes about the other two books in the series. Overall, it is a good read.