Lynn: There is something totally fascinating about dinosaurs. So many young readers fall under their spell, read every book they can find on the subject again and again and become walking encyclopedias of names and facts. Some of us never lose that fascination. A LOT of dinosaur books are published every year, many of them very similar, but happily we have two that will bring a little something new to the 567.9 section of your collections.

51484036Dinosaur Mountain: Digging Into the Jurassic Age (Farrar, 2010) by Deborah Kogan Ray plunks readers down in the middle of the 1877 “bone wars” when rival dinosaur hunters competed fiercely to find as many skeletons as possible. Never one to miss a craze, Andrew Carnegie wanted “something big” for his new museum in Pittsburgh and Earl Douglass was assigned the task. Unlike many “bone hunters” Douglass took a careful scientific approach and studied topographical maps and geological surveys before deciding the Uinta Basin of the Green River was the place to search. Douglass’s work paid off and after two discouraging seasons, he discovered the 70 ft. long skeleton of an Apatosaurus in 1909, complete with the only known skull of this huge creature. It was just the start. Continuing his careful detailed methods, Douglass worked the area (even after benefactor Carnegie’s death) until the quarry closed in 1924 and was instrumental in getting the area protected as Dinosaur National Monument.

This book takes me right back to my dinosaur-bedazzled childhood and like a kid, I just have to say that it is totally awesome. I thought our focus group might be a bit young for this book but they loved it and we slowly explored every page. The design really worked for us. One whole page of each big two-page spread is a sweeping illustration with all the stark grandeur of the desert. On the facing page is the lively text highlighted by intricate drawings: tools, geological strata, snippets from Douglass’ journals, maps. This is a book to linger over and enjoy with lots of great additional material like biographical notes, author notes, drawings of the dinosaurs found. Too cool! Don’t miss this one – it is not just another run of the mill dinosaur book!

Sorry Cindy! I know I was supposed to be brief but I just loved this book.

born-to-be-giantsCindy: That’s okay, Lynn. I’m still tired from the graduation party weekend so you can do my section, too, if you want….

No? Well, okay then. My dinosaur find is Born to Be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World by Lita Judge (Roaring Brook, 2010). The author sounds like someone after your own heart, Lynn. At the age of 15 Judge wrote to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Alberta, Canada, seeking a position as a volunteer on a dinosaur dig. She spent the next three summers doing just that and then pursued a degree in geology. Lucky for us, she also discovered a passion for writing and illustration. This book isn’t just cute drawings of baby dinosaurs, Judge presents lots of information about how paleontologists are studying bones and dig sites to hypothesis about how baby dinosaurs were raised. Which were altricial (helpless as newborns) or precocial (can leave the nest and get food for themselves).

Survival for baby dinosaurs was precarious. Just like many baby animals, predators are a huge threat, but imagine the danger of being “trampled by a mother who weighed as much as four pick-up trucks?” With its combination of awwwwwwe-inspiring illustrations and the fascinating information about the paleontologists’ work, this book, along with Ray’s are sure to inspire another generation of dinosaur fanatics. Make sure you don’t miss the photograph of teenage Lita working on a dig site.

Books Together is hosting Nonfiction Monday today. Check out all the great books nonfictionmondaythat will be listed there.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "Dinosaurs!"

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  1. Grown ups and kids alike love dinosaurs in our house so I think both of these would be a great hit. I’ll also mention them on Good Reads – there’s a book group for picture books and next month we’re looking at dino books and I’m sure people would be interested in these even if they are technically nonfiction.

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