The Plesiosaur’s Neck

The Plesiosaur’s Neck
Dr Adam S.Smith & Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Adam Larkum
uclan publishing

I certainly wasn’t expecting a rhyming text when I received this book but wow! It really works and is a terrific read aloud.

Plesiosaur expert Dr Adam S.Smith teamed up with children’s author Jonathan Emmett to create a cracking narrative to investigate the evolutionary conundrum of the long neck of Albertonectes using Poppy the plesiosaur as their main character. Poppy, so we learn, was an ocean dwelling Albertonectes plesiosaur – a prehistoric reptile from the Cretaceous Period living around the same time as the land living dinosaurs. Said creature was around 12 metres long and had many features similar to those of other sea creatures, but that stupendous neck (apparently around two-thirds of its whole body length) – what ever could have been the purpose of that?

Various possibilities are posited: maybe it was a pterosaur grabber …

or, could it have been a parasite picker-offer.? Perhaps it was a tunnelling tool to procure crunchy-shelled nibbles,

or contained an electric zapping mechanism to stun unsuspecting prey swimming too close. Poppy would most definitely have required a huge amount to food to keep her going.

This prehistoric poser is still being puzzled over and I love that the authors end by asking young budding palaeontologist readers, ‘So, what do YOU think that immense neck was for?’

Along with the playful, punning rhyming narrative is a series of fact boxes containing a wealth of additional information and in a rather wacky role are a pair of molluscs, Alfie Ammonite and Bella Belemnite, that chip in with jokes, and cheeky comments and puns relating mainly to Poppy.

The final spread is devoted to a glossary and a spotter’s guide to the Cretaceous Period with fifteen creatures to send readers back to the beginning of the book on a search-and-find quest. Adam Larkum’s illustrations are full of fun, adding to the entertainment of what is a smashing exploration.

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