Jenny's divorced father, a scientist, is one of those parents who turn every game into a learning experience and show disappointment when you don't come up with the right answers. That's why Jenny is so determined to find fossils around her new development in suburban Washington and why she makes cookies for a suspicious, gun-toting old black man who is reluctant to give her the special stones she finds on his property. (Toby, her younger black friend and new neighbor, upsets her by suggesting that the old man isn't as dumb as Jenny thinks he is.) Anyway Jenny gets her reward when she's hit on the head trying to save her fossil ""treasure"" from a bulldozer, and Daddy at her bedside proves that he cares more about her than about science. As if that's not enough (admittedly you never can tell with a Daddy like that), after she's better the museum man asks to keep one of the bones she'd found, the jaw of a possibly brand new species of extinct crocodile which might even be named after her. But all this heavy wish fulfillment tends to bury any social or scientific, to say nothing of literary, considerations.