Fossil feuding is alive and well in Printz Honor-winning author Kenneth Oppel’s young adult historical novel Every Hidden Thing. Two esteemed dinosaur hunters, Professor Cartland of Yale University and non-affiliated “Professor” Bolt from Philadelphia are archrivals, mimicking the real-life competition between paleontologists O.C. Marsh of the Peabody Museum at Yale and E.D. Cope of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.
In Oppel’s story, however, the real champions are the star-crossed young adults, who just happen to be the children of the eminent bone collectors. In a world where the adults are immoral enough to use their children to get information about their competitor’s dinosaur prospecting plans, every interaction is suspect. Is Samuel really attracted to Rachel, or is he just trying to flatter her to get information? Can Rachel overcome her loyalty to her father to let her feelings for Sam surface?
With the American West of the post-Civil War period as the backdrop, the book delves into the displacement of Native Americans by a host of government edicts. Additionally, a Sioux burial platform is brutally desecrated, an act that will have grave consequences.
As both professors race to find the giant bones belonging to the super-size black-toothed dinosaur, pressure increases between the camps. Rachel and Sam are also experiencing tensions from stolen kisses and sexual awakenings. The resolution of these issues confounds any speculation by the reader.