Books by Robert T. Bakker

DACTYLS! by Robert T. Bakker
ANIMALS
Released: Nov. 22, 2005

One of paleontology's hottest excavators turns his hand to writing a children's book, with entirely winning results. This upper-level entry in the venerable Step into Reading series features relatively simple language, but boy, is it ever exciting. Bakker addresses readers guilelessly; his enthusiasm for the dactyl fossils he digs for is contagious. Dactyls, he explains, are the winged creatures more properly known as pterosaurs, and in his hands they come alive on the page, Rey's illustrations clearly supporting the text. Speculation is never far from science, the evidence for the conclusions reached by the author always at the fore as he hypothesizes about everything from diet to color to movement. That these conclusions are rendered clearly and concisely enough for a transitional audience is no mean feat, and it is a testament to the author's respect for children that he even tries. If the text has a few too many exclamation points, no matter—they are not patronizing here, just evidence of shared excitement. It's a pity that the standard Step into Reading treatment has such low production values, as this offering definitely deserves better. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
RAPTOR RED by Robert T. Bakker
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

A spinster Utahraptor searches for love and meat 120 million years ago: lighthearted but scientifically sound dino-kitsch from noted paleontologist Bakker. A consultant for the film Jurassic Park, Bakker is often called brilliant and controversial in the same sentence; The Dinosaur Heresies (1986), for example, presented his thesis that many dinosaurs were warm-bloodedan idea now gaining increasing acceptance. Here, he debuts in fiction with the tale of a female Utahraptor, Raptor Red, and makes the best of an obvious Jurassic Park knockoff by matching the inherent silliness with his own Monty Pythonesque commentary: Characters have claws like ginsu knives, Ghurka knives, ``the most expensive French Cuisinart,'' and so on. When a mouse-sized aegi survives an attack by a giant dino-ostrich, he writes that ``Over a hundred million years later, the flow of aegi genes will produce wonderful creationsgiraffes, elephants...Republican majority leaders. Charles Darwin himself.'' More provocatively, he uses Red's relationships with other dinosaurs to probe current human controversies: Why hate and spite are good from an evolutionary standpoint, why vegetarians are dumber than carnivores, why the odd-looking are rightfully rejected by their own kind, how firm thighs enhance chances of reproduction. The author knows his Disney as well as his dinosaurs: Red loses her mate in the first chapter, scrambles to survive, has a joyous reunion with her sister and her three chicks, and meets a cute raptor. Sister, however, won't hear of a romanceshe needs Red to help feed and watch the kids. The advantage over Disney is that genetic selection and the evolutionary struggle, not a marketing department, cue the plot twists. Science and serious fun blend as Bakker shares his love of dinosaurs: a natural for the next Disney movie. (Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection) Read full book review >