Book Review: The Pterodactyl’s Egg
Dogs and cats can be trouble. But with a pterodactyl for a pet, the adventures never end.
When 9-year-old Sam finds a dinosaur egg fossil, he secrets it away in his room to admire. But the egg fossil has different plans and unexpectedly hatches. Overnight, Sam finds himself with a pterodactyl.
It’s an impossible secret to keep: Sam’s sister Priya accepts that they’re now living with a pterodactyl, but their confused mother thinks Sam has brought home a bat or mutated bird. But as Biscuit grows at a rapid rate, she can no longer ignore the truth of his species. At the children’s urging, she agrees to let them keep Biscuit temporarily.
While Sam and Priya are playing with their new pet, Dr. POX is furious. Her genetically engineered dinosaur egg is missing, and the evil scientist will leave no stone unturned to find it. The children are in real trouble – they just don’t know it yet.
The Pterodactyl’s Egg, from children’s writer Annie Besant, is an entertaining book packed with adventure. There’s no lag in the plot and no long, drawn-out introduction. The action begins in the opening paragraph and doesn’t stop for even a beat, alternating between Sam and Priya’s adventures with Biscuit and Dr. POX’s schemes in her far-away lab. Refreshingly, it’s a story for kids driven by a strong female cast of characters: Sam may be the protagonist, but women are the heroes – and villains – of The Pterodactyl’s Egg: Priya is protective of both Biscuit and Sam; their mother indulges her children, so long as they’re safe, and saves them when they aren’t. BENO – Dr. POX’s enhanced soldier – is a female anti-hero who carries out Dr. POX’s orders even as she sympathizes with the family.
Then there’s Dr. POX herself — I was thrilled to discover that the villain was female and unapologetic. The narratives of literature and film skew toward male villains, relegating female scoundrels to either anti-hero or sidekick status. Dr. POX, however, was a child genius whose parents misunderstood her and tried to make her more “normal.” This isn’t an explanation for why she’s evil or an apology for her evilness; Dr. POX was devious even as a child and always knew she was the smartest person in the room. It’s precisely this arrogance that led her to create a dinosaur and become angry when a couple of kids outsmart her.
Despite the evil genius and chase scenes, this story for kids isn’t dark or scary. It’s a lively and amusing read that will keep readers aged eight and older engrossed and wanting more. Which is a good thing, because the conclusion nicely sets up a sequel that Besant is rumoured to be writing….