Thursday, January 24, 2008


"The world doesn't need another A-to-Z list of dinosaurs!" said the author, and that is why he created this new and important illustrated compendium, covering not only the entire Dinosauria of 800-plus named species of Mesozoic dinosaurs, opinions and insights from thirty three of the world's preeminent paleontologists, and answers to pretty much every question a child could think about: how are dinosaur bones put together? Why do dinosaurs have such long names? How do we know how old a dinosaur is from the bones? What does dinosaur dung have to tell us? How can you tell the difference between a boy dinosaur and a girl dinosaur? With sections like "The Fighting Dinosaurs of Mongolia," "Dinosaur Detective," "Will Jurassic Park Ever Happen?" and "The Science of Dinosaur Art," this ain't no fooling around. The passion for the subject comes through on every page, and with the heft of an adult book and but the voice that speaks to the young, it reads like a dream textbook for the School of Dinosaurs. If your library's dinosaur encyclopedia was printed before 2000, oh my, how you need this book on the shelf. And if you know a child who dreams in the days of the deinonychosaurs, we need it in that child's hands. (9 and up)

Also of interest:
Well, there certainly seems to be a propensity to put eyeballs on the covers of dinosaur books; thank you, Steven Spielberg's scary Tyrannosaurus peeking-in-the-car scene from Jurassic Park, I guess! That said, you'd do well to eyeball these recent additions to the shelves on this ferociously popular topic.

EXTREME DINOSAURS by Robert Mash, illustrated by Stuart Martin (Atheneum) Dinosaurs come jumping off of the page thanks to pop-ups, pull-tabs, fold-outs and posters. Amidst all the action is a ton of information, photographs and fetching natural illustrations, all broken down into chunks of appealing dino-trivia. This wild museum-in-a-book approach assures that kids come away knowing something they never knew before, and makes it an extreme winner with relctant readers. (7 and up)

UNEVERSAURUS by Aidan Potts (David Fickling Books) If dinosaurs could debate, they might argue, "you never saw us, so how do you know what we look like?" U-never-saur-us? Get it? It took me a minute, but once I got it, I was glad I did...and the same goes for this book. Could dinosaurs really have been pink, with feathers like their birdie cousins? How did the environment and survival of the dinosaurs really impact how they looked? Funny, imaginative, and with a splash of the rarely celebrated imagination that goes into science, this book will have readers looking at the past in a whole new way. (6 and up)

DINOMUMMY: THE LIFE DEATH AND DISCOVERY OF DAKOTA, A DINOSAUR FROM HELL CREEK by Dr. Philip Lars Manning (Kingfisher) The great strength of this book is that it captures the real-life excitement of being a scientist; any child who has dreampt of being a paleontologist will thrill to the excavation of Dakota, the most complete mummified dinosaur fossil ever found. The present-tense narration in this book gives the telling a startling immediacy, even as it moves between the age of battling dinosaurs to sixty-five million years later, when a teenage enthusiast makes a remarkable discovery. The computer-enhanced illustrations are so realistic, it may take some explanation to younger children that these are not photographs, and a reminder that the dinosaurs, apart from their tamer modern cousins, no longer walk among us (phew). This book has a definite "WOW" factor, not from gimmicks but from a real story of discovery that was supported by the National Geographic Society and contained such sensitive scientific information that the title was under worldwide embargo until December. Now's your chance to have a look. (9 and up) Kids who are interested in DINOMUMMY may also enjoy the novel MY DANIEL by Pam Conrad (HarperTrophy), the page-turning tale of children on a Nebraska farm whose desperation compels them to become involved in unscrupulous dinosaur fossil hunting on the prairie, with tragic results. (9 and up)

DINO-PETS by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Gideon Kendall (Dutton) How do you choose which dinosaur to get? Would the longest or the strongest make the best pet? The scariest? Fastest? Softest? Smallest? All pets have their pros and cons, and the boy in this book gets a lesson in superlatives the hard way. A happy ending and illustrations from the Mark Teague school of dino-drawing silliness will earn lots of chuckles at storytime. (4 and up)

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.


Anonymous said...

I love the new look, but I have a question, if you don't mind. What are you reading in the picture?

Thanks for the great recommendations!

Esme Raji Codell said...

Thanks, Sheila! Still "tweaking" the page but hopefully for the best, so thanks for your encouraging words. The book I am reading in the photograph is the hilarious but sadly out-of-print OTTO: THE STORY OF A MIRROR by Ali Bahrampour. I will add this info permanently to the picture as soon as I figure out how. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing info about nonfiction children's books. So many students would enjoy (and prefer) information books for independent reading, but I want to find "high interest, low reading level" books.


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