Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
The Big Book of Dinosaurs

The Big Book of Dinosaurs

Spring 2016 Non-Fiction
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Publisher: DK Publishing
ISBN: 9781465443779
Hardcover Price: $14.99

This big book containing lots of big illustrations of big (and a few small) dinosaurs is an updated edition of DK Publishing's 1994 Big Book of Dinosaurs.

The book is divided into dinosaur categories that will capture a child's imagination-from Fast and Fierce and Mighty Meat-Eaters to Armored Tanks and Boneheads and Horns. All text is short, factual and always straight-forward, though some of the vocabulary is beyond the youngest readers and pre-readers.

While a few pages are devoted to museum-like displays of skeletons and bones, and labelled scary claws, bird-like beaks, scaly skin and even feathers, the book's most compelling images flesh out what various kinds of dinosaurs may have looked like roaming the primeval globe.

Although science isn't certain whether dinosaurs were drab greens and greys, or brightly colored, or both, this book prefers a full-blown primeval color wheel, as in the case of the crested Parasaurolophus and the duck-bill Corythosaurus whose scaly skins are portrayed here in beautiful neon greens, vibrant blues and bright oranges, with lovely dark-brown markings. It's a visual pleasure, whether accurate or not.

Other information about the sizes, habits and lives of these dinosaurs are scattered in small chunks throughout. The book even puts everything in perspective with a to-scale comparison showing relative dinosaur sizes, from the gigantic Barosaurus at 92 feet long to the pint-sized Compsognathus at 3 feet. For good measure, there an image of an adult human, too.

Dinosaur books for kids are hardly rare. DK itself has published dozens of them in the 22 years since publishing the first edition Big Book of Dinosaurs. But that doesn't mean kindergarten and elementary-school aged dinosaur lovers won't find these long-extinct and mysterious monsters totally mesmerizing. Most kids do.

Don Oldenburg   ©2016 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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