Pretty but insubstantial.

READ REVIEW

THE COLORFUL WORLD OF DINOSAURS

Fifty dinosaurs and kindred contemporaries display their hues in this large-format portrait gallery.

A greater mismatch between the pictures and the accompanying descriptive comments would be hard to imagine. Arranged in no discernable order one or two per spread, Sewell’s dinosaurs float benignly in static poses against white backgrounds. Figures mostly look flat and are roughly the same size, so there are no cues to relative scale. Rather than opening to display jagged dentifrices, mouths are usually closed, often set in small smiles, and the artist indicates details of scales, skin, and other features with just a perfunctory line or color change. Said colors sometimes make vivid contrasts—Velociraptor sports a downright garish mix of blood red and turquoise—but are for the most part pretty blends of hues. In contrast to the art’s weightless harmony, the narrative goes for the gusto: Ceratosaurus “was easily distinguishable by two devil horns, a fearsome nasal spike, a ridge of spikes down its back, and a set of huge gnashers designed for ripping apart the flesh of anything it came across.” Quetzalcoatlus “must have been a worrying sight, the size of a fighter jet wheeling round the sky.” References to “slow-footed” T. rex and “cunning” Utahraptor as well as a claim that Troodons “weren’t exactly rocket scientists” indicate a loose grasp of the difference between fact and speculation to boot.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61689-716-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Thin in spots, but both topic and author come with vast built-in audiences.

DINOSAURS

FACT AND FABLE

An abbreviated overview of the dino-world, as currently conceived and studied.

Best regarded as a shortened, revised, and reillustrated update to New Questions and Answers About Dinosaurs, illustrated by Jennifer Owings Dewey (1990), this outing pairs a zippy selection of color photos and paleo-art to a brisk recap of basic facts, with particular focus on recent theories and discoveries. Drifting into and out of a Q&A format, the book covers a broad range of topics including dinosaur hips and feathers, what paleontologists and fossils are, and new technology for finding and studying the latter. He goes on to highlight seven standard-issue “Dino-Stars,” discuss the “asteroid” and “volcano” extinction theories (properly suggesting that both may be correct), then closes by reaffirming that, yes, birds really belong to the theropod family. The pictures are consistently apt and occasionally arresting, ranging from a close-up of Velociraptor avidly chasing a frantic-looking small mammal to views of scientists at work (most White). If “the Stegosaurus State” is not Colorado’s nickname (not on any official list, anyway), and a quaint claim that T. rex was the largest carnivorous dinosaur will have young Spinosaurus fans howling in protest, still this offers an easily readable road map of the field for younger dinophiles. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

Thin in spots, but both topic and author come with vast built-in audiences. (index, reading list) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-247063-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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