Buck, 11-year-old star of a series of nature films for television, is back for a second outing, this time in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park.
Buck and his dad, both white, and their photographer and his Asian daughter, Toni, are planning to film Pueblo ruins, but after meeting up with a Navajo teen who calls himself Nash (short for Náshdóítsoh) and speaks in infodumps even when not giving formal programs to campers, they learn of dinosaur tracks and fossils located nearby and add these to their filming plans. Nick, a boy they meet while camping, begins to follow Toni and Buck around, creating friction between the pair. Buck is convinced that Nick is stealing things; Toni is pretty sure that Buck is just jealous. But villains are an essential part of the mix in this series, so some of Nick’s evil ways are quickly revealed. That a trusted adult they’ve encountered is also involved in the theft of antiquities (for no obvious reason) comes as a greater surprise, putting intrepid (but impulsive) Buck and Toni in real danger. Much of the narrative is taken up with the presentation of information about the realistically depicted canyons of Utah, diminishing character development to a minimum and sometimes slowing the pace to a crawl. This is punctuated by some exciting moments, including a suspenseful climactic chase scene.
Another just-average mystery/adventure tale that reads much like a travelogue. (Mystery. 9-12)