A young microraptor meets several of her Cretaceous cousins on the way to learning how to use her own feathered limbs to glide.
“ ‘Pterosaurs are so rude!’ clucked the confuciusornis.” As in Toby and the Ice Giants (2015), Lillington pairs lists of facts and descriptive notes set in a small typeface with an invented series of larger print conversational encounters between contemporaries (or at least rough contemporaries, as he properly notes at the end). Here, practically every creature Neffy sees after she tumbles from a branch and makes her way at ground level to a cliff’s edge sports feathers or featherlike features, along with pleasantly polysyllabic monikers like sinosauropteryx, gallimimus, nothronychus, and buitreraptor. The low-contrast illustrations make poor companions for all the precise and up-to-date paleontological information, though; several scenes are cramped and overcrowded, and along with the dull blobs of Neffy’s “iridescent black” plumage, much of the prehistoric cast is barely distinguishable in the leafy background murk. If it weren’t for Neffy’s puffinlike beak, readers would have a hard time spotting her in several illustrations. Modern humans, most of them dark-skinned, put in appearances at the end—digging for fossils in one scene and fleeing the episode’s entire extinct cast, drawn to scale and brought to life, in another.
The art doesn’t exactly soar, but younger readers may find these tidbits more digestible than the somewhat more technical anatomical details in Brenda Z. Guiberson and William Low’s Feathered Dinosaurs (2016). (glossary, map) (Informational picture book. 7-9)