THE LAST SYNAPSID by Timothy Mason


Age Range: 11 & up
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Twelve-year-old Rob Gates and his best friend Phoebe Traylor, 13, know something is amiss in their small town of Faith, Colo., when they discover Pinkie, an elderly white poodle, torn to pieces on a mountain path. The genuinely suspenseful, often wryly comical novel unfolds like a murder mystery in the friendly, youthful voice of the omniscient narrator: “The thought of some unknown bloodthirsty beast walking the streets of Faith at night, right outside their windows, was chilling and kind of great at the same time.” The mystery soon transmogrifies into a time-traveling cautionary tale—almost in the spirit of A Christmas Carol—when Rob and Phoebe meet “the last synapsid,” a doglike, tusked diictodon with an English accent who physically transports them to their past, present and future in hopes of convincing them to help him save the Earth. Mason effectively weaves emotionally resonant stories of seventh-grade angst (school teasing, absent fathers, mother conflicts and frissons of romance) with death-defying, planet-saving hijinks involving fanged, sometimes malodorous Permian-era beasts—not an easy feat. (Science fiction. 11 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-385-73581-0
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2009