Green supplies plenty of grist for the dino-mill; Basher’s formulaic visuals, not so much.



From the Basher Basics series

The umpteenth volume of Basher Basics features a representative assortment of dinosaurs and dino-cousins strutting their stuff.

Grouped into “Veggie Munchers,” “Meat Crunchers,” “High-fliers” and “Water Lovers,” 26 dinos and proto-reptiles each step up in turn to flex their attributes: “I’m one happy swimmer—a fish-chasin’, air-breathin’, fully oceangoin’ reptile. Very ‘plesio’ to meet you!” Bulleted lists of basic facts sandwich each testimonial and add to the typically substantial informational load. Basher’s cartoon portraits, on the other hand, don’t add much beyond cuteness. Though recognizable in general form, the prehistoric creatures all float over monochrome pastel backgrounds and are rendered in a flat, stylized way with the same smooth surface textures and similar squints and smiles. Ten dinos get a curtain call in a small foldout poster at the end. Weather publishes simultaneously.

Green supplies plenty of grist for the dino-mill; Basher’s formulaic visuals, not so much. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7534-6823-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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An alternative to the shelf full of picture-book biographies, for readers who may find Sheila Cole’s Dragon in the Cliff,...


Carved out and buffed up from historical records, an imagined account of the great fossil hunter’s early life and groundbreaking career.

Following an account of the lightning strike that killed several adults but spared the 15-month-old Mary, Kulling skips ahead to record the child’s deep delight at getting a rock hammer for her eighth birthday. Between that and Anning’s laborious extraction of a great ichthyosaur skeleton at age 12, in 1811, the author chronicles her sometimes-hazardous search for fossil ammonites and other “curiosities” (as they were then called) to sell as the family livelihood—first with her father and then, after his disabling accident and early death, largely alone. Period details of everyday life in Lyme Regis, both in the narrative and in Castrillón’s delicate illustrations, and embroidered encounters with rival fossil hunters and collectors flesh out the story; notes at the end wire together explanations of what fossils are with descriptions of some of Anning’s other discoveries and their subsequent histories. Though here at least she seems almost relieved to quit school at the earliest opportunity to pursue her vocation, Mary presents an admirable role model for her lively mind, independent spirit, and a continuing sense of wonder that drives her to chip away at nature’s mysteries.

An alternative to the shelf full of picture-book biographies, for readers who may find Sheila Cole’s Dragon in the Cliff, illustrated by T.C. Farrow (1991) hard to read or get. (bibliography) (Historical fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-898-3

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Twenty large, fossilized skeletons pose amid fleshed-out reconstructions of the originals and selected relatives in this dino gallery.

Though dark or atmospherically faded sepia backgrounds lend a superficial visual unity, the illustrations are all stock images, rendered in diverse styles and sometimes blurrily reproduced. Readers may wonder whether the author has even seen them, as the text and pictures are sometimes at odds. The painted portraits accompanying his suggestions that Gallimimus and Dromaeosaurus may have been feathered are bare-skinned, and he neglects to mention the pinions (or is that hair?) on a particularly colorful rendition of Leptoceratops. He also seems more focused on dropping scads of dino names (many of which are not in the index) than in systematically developing the title’s premise. He does explain the significance of large orbital and nasal cavities in fossil skulls, for instance, but not what “bony tendons” even are in one specimen or how an entire skeleton could be reconstructed for Pachycephalosaurus from just a skull. Also, he repeats information here, contradicts himself there, and presents different rationales for the belief that Iguanodon walked on two legs on consecutive spreads.

A dino flop. (timeline, glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: July 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77085-717-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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