A set of rhymed riddles sends young Mason pelting through a natural history museum in search of both solutions and the best place for his birthday sleepover.
Joined by friends Will and Zoe at the museum’s entrance, Mason starts out with a “Dino Fossil Dig” in the Discovery Room’s sandbox. Equipped with headlamps and a fold-out map, the kids then dash down darkened halls (museum employee Jesse in tow) to marvel at models of Saturn, a T. Rex, and a dodo; wild-animal exhibits; live butterflies; and other wonders. After winding up in the party room for cake, Mason and his pals bed down beneath a huge blue whale suspended from the ceiling. As the explorers somehow never get to the Hall of Human Origins or the ethnographic exhibits marked on the endpaper floor plans, this has its limits as a model itinerary for a visit to a real science museum, where evolutionary science is covered and, perhaps, some humans are uncovered. More problematically, the illustrations mislead or include actual errors: “Just look at the diamonds sparkle!” Zoe enthuses, gazing at a jumble of large, elongated blue crystals. Elsewhere, a set of “extinct predators” includes two herbivores, a group labeled “African Elephant” seems to include at least two of the Asian subspecies, and all of the visible exhibits in the Hall of Dinosaurs are fleshed-out models rather than skeletons. A substantial list of natural history and other types of museums with sleepover programs at the end offers leads to more authentic experiences. Mason and Zoe present white; Will presents black; and Jesse presents Asian.
Bland, hypercautious, and sloppy. (Picture book. 6-8)