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The art doesn’t exactly soar, but younger readers may find these tidbits more digestible than the somewhat more technical...

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)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-909263-89-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Donald is no Douglas Florian (Dinothesaurus, 2009), but even rabid young dino fans will come away with a clearer sense of...

The author of Dino Tracks (2013) adopts a broader purview, introducing in verse 13 things we can infer about dinosaurs from fossil and other evidence.

The paleontology is better than the poetry. Singable, theoretically, to the tune of “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” each two-stanza entry takes on a single subject: “So what’s with all the feathers? Could the dinos fly? / Maybe they helped keep a dino warm and dry. / Or they might have helped to show off to a mate. / That’s the way a peacock tries to get a date!” Donald also describes the fossilized contents of “Dino Poop” and dino stomachs (“What’s For Dinner”), preserved hints about skin and coloration, sounds possibly produced by the hollow crests of duck-billed species and like topics. The poems, arranged in no apparent order, end with a mention of modern birds—followed by expansive notes (in prose) and a page of study questions. Morrison adds both helpful visual detail and plenty of action with facing views of crumpled fossils and reconstructed prehistoric scenes featuring toothy predators and heavily armored plant eaters in loud, mottled colors.

Donald is no Douglas Florian (Dinothesaurus, 2009), but even rabid young dino fans will come away with a clearer sense of what fossil clues tell us. (bibliography) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62855-450-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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From the Mad Scientist Academy series

Mad fun.

An informative but hair-raising tour of a rather-too-realistic dinosaur exhibit gives six new students a memorable first day at Mad Scientist Academy.

Barely have the young folk—a notably diverse group of kidlike monsters and nonhumans—met their new teacher Dr. Cosmic (green skin, orange goatee, goggles, lab coat) than the action starts. Soon they’re narrowly avoiding obliteration from a flaming model meteor, stepping hastily away from oozing lava, and fleeing a set of robotic dinos inadvertently switched to “Live” mode. Meanwhile, they’re also learning about fossils, mass extinctions (mutters Dr. Cosmic “Note to self: turn down the lava”), dinosaurs in various Mesozoic periods, pterosaurs, and the similarities between theropods and modern birds. The scholars are aided in their enquiries by pocket-sized, utterly cool “Mad Scientist handbooks,” which fold out into arrays of helpful screens, touchpads, tools, and gadgets. Having filled his sequential panels and full-page illustrations with escalating, destructive antics done up in a tidy style that makes them all the more hilarious, McElligott closes with a thumbnail gallery of the exhibit’s prehistoric residents and a link to an associated website. Aside from being, you know, mad, Dr. Cosmic is plainly a colleague of Ms. Frizzle, and the mix of pithy banter, tumultuous field-trip mishaps, and science fact is as familiar as it is winning. Fans of the Frizz will be dino-delighted.

Mad fun. (Graphic science fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-52374-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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