OLA Forest Kid Committee Summer Reading List: Every Hidden Thing

July 11, 2017 at 10:00 am 2 comments

From Natalie C., Reference & Digital Resources Librarian

#3 in our blog series on the OLA Forest Kid Committee Summer Reading List. Selected by kids for kids, the list has 20 great books for students grades 5 through 8. Follow along on the blog as I attempt to profile as many books on the list as I can before the school year starts up again.

Next up: Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

The Haiku Review


hidden underneath / hills and rocks, stones and quarrels / more than bones: true love

Major Players:

  • Confident, charismatic Samuel Bolt whose temper prevents him from staying in school
  • Budding paleontologist Rachel Cartland whose dream is to go to university
  • Their stubborn, egomaniacal fathers Professors Cartland & Bolt who take them on an ambitious paleontological dig after which their lives will never be the same

One-Sentence Summary
Samuel & Rachel accompany their feuding paleontologist fathers as they each try to become the first to discover a new species of dinosaur, all the while contending with thieves, rattlesnakes and the prospect of true love.

Authorial Anecdote
Kenneth Oppel has written a number of well-known books for young adults, including The Silverwing Saga, The Airborn Trilogy, and most recently The Nest.

Tough Topics
Every Hidden Thing features characters of Indigenous descent and discusses cultural appropriation. It also includes depictions of sex.

Kids List Connection
Like We Are All Made of Molecules, Every Hidden Thing is told from alternating perspectives. The book highlights the shift from Samuel’s voice to Rachel’s by changing the typeface. A sans-serif font is used for Rachel, reflective of her no-nonsense personality, and a more traditional serif font is used for the romantic Samuel.

Quick Quotes
Samuel: “I could barely tear my gaze away. Neither could Father. It was a fossil hunter’s paradise. All that stone with its deep secrets. You could look and dig for years and discover only a fraction. I wanted to get down there and start right away.

Rachel: “I leaned against the stone until my breathing slowed — and then stopped altogether for a second as I stared. And suddenly I was a young girl again, standing at dawn on a farmer’s field, gazing at something miraculous and ancient in the earth.”

What’d I think?
8/10 Giant Black Teeth
From the first page, you can tell that Every Hidden Thing is going to be a different kind of book. Kenneth Oppel’s language takes you back to nineteenth-century America when people still spoke in “sirs” and “ma’ams” and the land was as rough as the people living on it. Alternating between the voices of protagonists Samuel and Rachel, Oppel really let’s you live inside their colourful minds. Rachel’s intelligence and quick wit — including her ability to manipulate Samuel — make her a compelling, and somewhat tragic character. Despite her passion and drive, she’s still dependent on the men in the life — her overbearing father, and new love, Samuel — to make her dream of going to university a reality. Oppel also does a nice job depicting the joys and pitfalls of young love, highlighting the heartbreaking challenges his Romeo-and-Juliet couple face, while also conveying the fun and romance. It’s a nice acknowledgement that relationships are hard work, and that tensions can flare when the honeymoon’s over.

In addition to all this love and adventure, however, Oppel is sure to acknowledge the negative aspects of the explorers’ discoveries including the displacement of the Plains Indians. Yet, even though the Lakota Sioux and Pawnee characters in the novel play an important role, they ultimately end up serving the novel’s white protagonists. Definitely an important point for discussion if you end up using this novel in class.

In the end, however, I really enjoyed Oppel’s Western romance, which calls on its readers to dig below the surface.

Check out our other blog posts in the series and stay tuned for more book profiles in the coming weeks!
A Month of Mondays
We Are All Made of Molecules




Entry filed under: Books.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Clare Gorman  |  July 11, 2017 at 10:51 am

    I’m loving these inspirational book reviews, Natalie! Thank you.

    • 2. tdsbpl  |  July 11, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Glad you’ve been enjoying them Clare! I’ve been having fun reading all of these great books – NC


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