Dig these dino ditties

Books - March 2006


Judy Belanger

Most of us—including me—have a fascination with dinosaurs. With the Field Museum’s new dinosaur exhibit, "Evolution Through Time," opening this month, I thought it would be a good time to suggest some great books about these amazing monsters.

HARRY AND THE DINOSAURS AT THE MUSEUM, by Ian Whybrow, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds, Random House, $15.95; ages 3-7.

Sam, Harry’s sister, wants Mom to take her to the museum where she can study the Romans as part of her homework assignment. Gran joins them and Harry takes along his bucket of dinosaurs so they, too, can see the Romans. The museum is a very big place and Harry finds a lot for his dinosaurs to learn. After lunch, the dinosaurs get bored so Harry decides it is time they do their own studying. And sure enough, when Mom finds Harry in Prehistoric Hall, the dinosaurs are learning about their ancestors. Besides being a fun book to read about dinosaurs, this story serves as a good reminder for your children to stay with you while visiting a place as large as a museum. They can see and learn what can happen if they do get separated.

TIME SOLDIERS, REX AND REX 2, by Robert Gould and Kathleen Duey, digitally illustrated by Eugene Epstein, photographed by Robert Gould, Big Guy Books, $5.95 each; ages 4-8.

In three days, friends Mickey, Rob, Jon, Mariah, Bernardo and Adam are going camping and exploring in the nearby woods. They have been planning this exciting adventure all summer, but they had no idea what an adventure they would have. Just before they are to leave, Mickey and Rob see a strange light swirling ahead in the woods. It’s a dinosaur. They call the others and begin to investigate. Follow along with the group as they enter a swirling tunnel of time travel into the land of dinosaurs. Also visit www.bigguybooks.com to get puzzle and activity pages along with some discussion questions.

DINO-MIGHT! GROOVY TUBE BOOK, by Michael Burgan, illustrated by Bernard Adnet, realistic dinosaur illustrations by Gregory Wenzel, innovative KIDS, $19.99; ages 5-12.

There is a lot more than reading involved with this book. In addition to the standard facts—summaries of time periods, eating habits, protective features and the reasons dinosaurs eventually became extinct, all appropriate for beginners—there’s a game board with question cards and a tube of 16 dinosaurs. Players move around the board by answering the questions and collecting the dinosaur figures to take to a museum. The front cover features a list of the dinosaurs in the tube with a pronunciation guide and interesting facts about each. The back cover provides ideas for dinosaur craft projects. One asks the reader to pretend to have found a new dinosaur. The assignment is to give it a name, describe what it looks like and then draw its picture.

DINO WARS: THE DINOSAURS’ BIGGEST, BADDEST BATTLES, by Jinny Johnson, consultant professor Michael J. Benton, Abrams, $17.95; ages 9-12.

For years, scientists have been predicting which dinosaurs would survive if they met in a one-on-one battle. The author divides the dinosaurs into four combat zones: Paleozoic, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous; and considers six battle variables: strength, armor, speed, agility, scariness and special skills. Each dinosaur is ranked on a danger scale from 0-10.

One of the most ferocious, and the most famous, is Tyrannosaurus rex. His strength is his size (10), which also makes him the scariest (10). He has no armor, but knife-like teeth make up for that (8). His size makes him slow (5), but he still is relatively agile (8). His special skill (10) is waiting for his prey and then delivering lethal bites to the enemy’s neck. His overall danger level adds up to 8.5, one of the highest ratings of all the dinosaurs. Author Johnson ranks more than 150 dinosaurs.

ENCYCLOPEDIA PREHISTORICA DINOSAURS: THE DEFINITIVE POP-UP, by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart, Candlewick, $26.99; ages 5 and up.

All of the pages are divided into categories of shield-bearers, long-necked giants and raptors. Included among the six large pop-ups are ankylosaurus, triceratops, brachiosaurus and archaeopteryx. Each page features little doors that, when opened, provide information from smaller pop-ups. Sabuda and Reinhart have included more than 35 pop-ups with information on more than 50 dinosaurs. I was pleased to find a pronunciation guide for each dinosaur, along with information about the scientists who were involved in the discoveries. The fascinating pop-ups provide related information.

FOSSIL DETECTIVE: TYRANNOSAURUS REX, by Dennis Schatz, Silver Dolphin, $16.95; ages 8 and up.

You won’t have any trouble pretending to be a paleontologist as you read about T-rex and follow along with Matt and his sister Carrie on a dig for fossil bones. This activity book offers information about finding and properly excavating prehistoric bones. Best of all, the book includes a tray of bones in plaster. As you learn how to dig for dinosaur bones, you use the same kinds of tools to remove the bones from the tray and assemble your own dinosaur.

Young paleontologists might also enjoy other books published by Silver Dolphin, including Totally Dinosaurs and Robotic T. Rex.

Judy Belanger is a retired elementary learning resource center teacher who lives with her husband in Addison. They have two grown children and four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6 in the school where she taught.


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