Summary of "The Boxcar Children: The Dinosaur Mystery"

by Alice Drinkworth

The Alden children and their Korean cousin Soo Lee search for missing dinosaur bones in "The Dinosaur Mystery." In this 44th book in the "Boxcar Children" series, the five children visit the Pickering Museum. Several bones are missing days before the dinosaur exhibit is to open, featuring a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton not complete without its missing bones.

The Mystery

Benny Alden, age six, and his older siblings Violet, Jessie and Henry, along with his seven year old cousin Soo Lee return for another puzzling predicament in "The Dinosaur Mystery." Mr. and Mrs. Diggs invite the children to help set up the Dino World exhibit at the Pickering Museum. The central piece to the exhibit is the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, except the children quickly discover that several bones are missing.


The children immediately meet the new night watchman, Pete Lawlor and his dog Nosie. Pete is just getting used to his job, setting off alarms and trying to fix the cameras in the fossil room at the museum. Nobody is allowed in the fossil room, but the children find the room unlocked and Pete inside their first night at the museum. Pete shows up in other surprising places in the museum without explanation.


Eve Skyler, the planetarium director at the museum, gets the children to help her clean out the planetarium. After working all morning clearing construction equipment and debris out of the room, the children return from lunch to find the trash they removed back in the room. Eve becomes a suspect when the children discover a stash of Dino World posters they had hung earlier stashed in her office.


Titus Pettibone, the fossil scientist, is supposed to be at a fossil conference in Montana when the children arrive. The children meet Titus two days later, and Benny recognizes him as the bearded man he saw go into a manhole the night before. The scientist first refuses to allow the children to help, but eventually puts Violet, Henry and Jessie to work in the fossil room.

Mystery Solved

The children find Pete holding a bone up to the T-Rex exhibit, and they are sure they have found the bone thief red-handed. All the bones have been returned to the skeleton, except for one. Pete admits to visiting the T-Rex often, but denies stealing the bones. Eve Skyler admits to sabotaging the opening of Dino World by keeping the children too occupied to work on it and taking down the posters. Titus Pettibone admits to being the thief to bring more excitement to the opening of the exhibit, then laments that he can't remember where he put the last bone. Violet comes to the rescue by uncovering the last piece.

The Series

"The Boxcar Children" series is published by Albert Whitman & Company. Gertrude Chandler Warner wrote the first Boxcar Children mystery in 1924. She wrote 19 titles for the series, the last published three years before her death in 1979. The series continued with ghostwriters and now has more than 100 titles. "The Dinosaur Mystery" published in 1995.


Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images