Chewy fare for fans of polysyllabic monikers but not a top-shelf prospect in the struggle to survive.

THE DAWN OF PLANET EARTH

From the Prehistoric Field Guides series

A chatty lungfish leads a quick tour of life’s evolution, from Earth’s formation to the appearance of early mammals in the Triassic Period.

“Hi. My name is Ackerley. I’m an Acanthostega.” Following introductions and quick peeks at fossilization and continental drift, the colorfully mottled narrator highlights or at least mentions around a dozen extinct creatures. These range from millipedes “the size of crocodiles” and Opabinia—“If there were a prize for The Weirdest Creature That Ever Lived, Opabinia would be a hot favorite”— to the shrewlike Megazostrodon. Though rendered in close, sharp relief, usually with mouths threateningly open (at least for those animals with visible mouths), Minister’s page-filling, digitally modeled figures often sport a shiny, plastic look. The artificiality extends to an obtrusive absence of blood and gore despite attacks and toothy chomping aplenty here and also in the co-published Dinosaurs Rule. Moreover, both volumes share substantial passages of boilerplate and mention animals that have no corresponding portraits. The closing recaps and indexes are likewise incomplete.

Chewy fare for fans of polysyllabic monikers but not a top-shelf prospect in the struggle to survive. (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-6348-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hungry Tomato/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010).

TOBY AND THE ICE GIANTS

A small bison meets some ice age megafauna in this prehistoric ramble.

Assuring his mom that “I’m big now. I’m not scared!” little Toby scampers off. He collides with a grumpy woolly rhinoceros, introduces himself to a Megatherium, wonders at a woolly mammoth’s tusks, and sidles anxiously past a handful of other Pleistocene creatures—including a group of fur-clad humans—before gamboling back to safety. Along with exchanged greetings, each encounter comes with a side box of descriptive facts and comments, plus a small image of the animal posed next to a human (in modern dress) for comparison. Young viewers will marvel at the succession of massive ruminants and predators, which Lillington renders in watercolors with reasonable accuracy, if anthropomorphic facial expressions. He offers measurements in metric units only (except for humans, whose weight is opaquely designated “average”). Rather anticlimactically, he caps his gallery with a perfunctory, unillustrated list of “some other amazing ice age animals that Toby didn’t get to meet!”

A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010). (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-909263-58-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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A routine run over a well-beaten path.

UTTERLY AMAZING DINOSAUR

Flashing teeth, beaks, feathers, and bright patterns, dinos and prehistoric reptiles pose or pop up in this paleontological parade.

A triceratops and an era-ending meteoric explosion pop up dramatically, and large flaps fleshing out opposed skulls of a carnivore and an herbivore really highlight structural differences. Otherwise, this broad but shallow outing offers standard-issue basic facts about dinosaur sizes and shapes, the spikes and other features that distinguish various types, dino poo and farts, continental drift, fossilization, paleontological practices, and birds. Few of the flaps and pop-up scenes add much to the discourse, and the art is an awkward mix: photos and finely detailed, realistically modeled stock images are combined with flatter, more simply drawn figures or even silhouettes—all floating on monochromatic backgrounds or, occasionally, rudimentary evocations of ferny habitat.

A routine run over a well-beaten path. (Informational pop-up picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4654-5366-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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