Monday, January 6, 2014

Nonfiction Monday: Dinosaur Look-Alikes by Buffy Silverman

Can You Tell a Velociraptor from a Deinonychus?
Can You Tell a Brachiosaurus from an Apatosaurus?
I don't have to tell anyone that dinosaur books are popular, right? When I run a weeding list, and there is anything at 567.9 that has not checked out in the last 6 months, I automatically know it's lost.We are continually buying dinosaur books to replace those that wear out, and while I know kids will pick up virtually anything on the subject, it's nice to find something with a little bit 'more'.
This series may be just as popular with the adults trying to keep up with the inquisitive little minds in their lives. After a certain point, you can't get away with calling them all "long-necks" or "three-horns"! Each of these six books starts off with a description of a particular group - raptors or sauropods, for example - and gives a few commonalities. From there, we get some simple ways to tell the two featured dinosaurs apart. What I really liked is that each detail includes a "why" - brachiosaurus's front legs were longer, and it held its head upwards, so it could eat plants that were much higher up. A comparison is drawn to giraffes, and how they eat. Lots of critical thinking skills, here!
I appreciated that Silverman was not afraid to say occasionally, "scientists do not know...but many think...". It is good for kids to realize that there are still discoveries to be made (perhaps by them!), and to have the chance to discuss the evidence one way or another.
The books are chock full of photographs (of skeletons, of course) and colorful drawings (with a little bit of blood and guts to keep certain young men happy). Side-by-side diagrams at the end help sum up the similarities and differences.
Overall, a solid addition to any library or home collection - and who couldn't use more dino books? Thank-you to Lerner for the review copies!

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