by Pam Conrad. (HarperCollins, 1991. ISBN 9780064403092. Order Info.) Novel. 144 pages. Grades 5-7.
An old woman, Julia Creath Summerwaite, takes her grandchildren to the museum to see some dinosaur bones. Needing frequent rests on the way, she tells the tragic story of her brother Daniel who discovered a brontosaurus on their land in Nebraska. Each exhibit in the museum prompts another memory about her brother. Obsessed as her grandson seems to be with the subject of dinosaurs, Daniel did indeed meet with success on his dinosaur hunt but only moments later he was struck by lightening. The telling and the physical act of getting to the exhibit exhaust the woman until both the readers and her grandchildren are afraid for her well-being. The touching, dramatic story reaches its climax when they reach the dinosaur room.
The climax is so easily identifiable in this book that it provides the opportunity to discuss such moments in other literature. The idea of a quest fully realized in My Daniel can also lead to a discussion of the quest story genre.
Conrad does well in taking us back and forth from past to present and Julia's evocation of the prairie makes this book a good addition to any study of the prairie and such books as Prairie Song and Prairie Vision also by Conrad.
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