Saturday, May 28, 2011

For young readers: Books about dinosaurs

book reviews

The prehistoric world and the life forms that inhabited it can be a fascinating topic for people of all ages, which is why creatures like the dinosaurs still maintain a noticeable presence on the pages of books despite the fact that they have been extinct for millions of years. Through works that have been put together keeping young readers in mind, children (at least the ones who don’t find these gigantic animals intimidating) can explore the mysteries of the prehistoric times while learning about the mighty beings that once ruled planet Earth.

Dinosaurs: The Fact Files
Author: Paul Harrison
Dinosaur Fact File aims to present “the who, when, [and] where of the prehistoric world”. The book begins by explaining what a dinosaur is, and then gives details about each of the species discussed. The dinosaurs are presented alphabetically, and information is offered about each type along with trivia in the form of fact files, which include things like how to pronounce the dinosaurs’ names and what the names mean, which family and period they belong to, where they were found, how high and long and heavy they were, what food they ate, and if they had any special features. The book manages to get quite a bit of information across, and the illustrations add both colour and detail to the descriptions; a lot of facts are on offer here, and this is one book that kids who want to read about dinosaurs are very likely to love.

An Alphabet of Dinosaurs
Author: Peter Dodson
Illustrators: Wayne D. Barlowe and Michael Meaker
From the Ankylosaurus to the Zephyrosaurus, this book gives brief descriptions of 26 dinosaurs – one for each letter of the alphabet – with accompanying images (both black and white illustrations and painted pictures) that bring the creatures to life. These 26 dinosaurs may be “just a tiny portion of the many different kinds of dinosaurs that lived during the 150 million years known as the Mesozoic Era”, but the descriptive (albeit very brief) text is easy to read, the concluding guide offers interesting facts about each dinosaur, while the illustrations paint a vivid picture of what these creatures were like and are very likely to capture the imagination of young readers.

Author: Patrick O’Brien
The fact that dinosaurs were huge is one of the reasons we find them so fascinating, but discerning the size of these “terrible lizards”, as the author explains, wasn’t easy, as “complete dinosaur skeletons are very rare” and “the bones are usually found broken and scattered”; scientists had to put these pieces together to understand how big these creatures really were and what they looked like. In Gigantic!, Patrick O'Brien uses illustrations to compare different dinosaurs with items like cars, tanks, and human beings to give readers an idea of their real size, and also provides a summary of some of their sizes and measurements (in feet) along with a few interesting facts about these massive beasts.

Crafts for Kids Who Are Learning about Dinosaurs
Author: Kathy Ross
Illustrator: Jan Barger
This book hosts creative projects for kids who are learning about dinosaurs and would like to create simple dinosaur-related crafts. The 22 projects in Crafts for Kids include a fossil necklace, dinosaur puppet, bone-headed dinosaur pencil topper, Stegosaurus scrap box, Pteranodon lapel pin, and more. The pages detail the list of material required for each craft along with step by step instructions as well as illustrations that help the kids as they create the items. The crafts on offer will keep the young ones busy, although grown ups will have to help find the appropriate materials as well as guide and supervise to see that things are used properly. Those interested in arts and crafts will certainly appreciate this book.

- Sameen Amer

The Express Tribune - 28th May, 2011

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