Focus on the Family

The Case of the Dinosaur in the Desert

A book review for parents

This fourth mystery book in the "New Sugar Creek Gang" series by Pauline Hutchens Wilson and Sandy Dengler is published by Moody Publishers.

The Case of the Dinosaur in the Desert is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Plot Summary

Lynn Wing enters a dinosaur-drawing contest and wins first place. The prize is the opportunity to participate in an actual archaeological dig in Arizona. Lynn invites the rest of the Sugar Creek Gang to join her. When they arrive at the dig site, an unpleasant paleontologist named Dr. Alex Royer eventually greets them. She does not like having young people on her dig site and alternates between ignoring them and accusing them of stealing things, such as fossils. At one point, the Sugar Creek Gang is told to leave, and another kinder paleontologist, Brian, helps them get permission to return. From that time forward, the kids determine to be kind to Dr. Royer, following Jesus' example, regardless of how mean she is to them. Eventually, one of the Sugar Creek Gang members, Les, finds the real thief, a neighboring ranch owner, and Dr. Royer and Les get the culprit to admit his guilt. In the end, the gang realizes that they have learned important lessons about following God through their willingness to show God's love to Dr. Royer.

Christian Beliefs

This book is written from a Christian worldview. The kids talk about specific Bible verses with their parents, and Les' father discusses prayer with him. Members of the Sugar Creek Gang, also, pray. Through doing the things that the Bible tells them to do, the kids start to understand how they please Jesus when they obey His Word. The book emphasizes the importance of not just reading God's Word, but also applying it to everyday situations. When a poisonous snake almost attacks Les, he realizes that God divinely protected him. Les explains to Brian, a kind paleontologist, that a Christian is a person who trusts Jesus and wants to please Him.

Authority Roles

The Sugar Creek Gang believes their parents are in authority over them, and they honor and obey them. Despite poor treatment by the adults in charge at the dig site, they try to be respectful. Dr. Royer uses her position to treat the Sugar Creek Gang poorly, and Brian uses his position to protect the kids. Les' father comforts him with biblical principles and Bible verses, and all the gang's parents try to do what is best for their children

Other Belief Systems


Profanity/Graphic Violence






Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.