Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures / Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures

Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures
Matt Sewell
Pavilion Books

Of the 1,000 dinosaur species that have already been identified, (so we’re told in the introduction) some fifty grace the pages of this beautifully illustrated book by wildlife author and artist Matt Sewell.
In a note about his illustrations Sewell reminds readers that rather than imagining them as big lizards with muddy-brown or dull green scales, palaeontologists now think that many dinosaurs may have been colourful creatures, some even feathered,. This is reflected in his illustrations herein. Did you know for instance that Yutyrannus, a relation of Tyrannosaurus rex, discovered in 2012 had a complete covering of feathers?

Accompanying each one is a paragraph or two of factual information into which the author injects not only occasional surprises but gentle humour too.
I was fascinated to learn that the ‘teenage’ Pachycephalosaurus, termed ‘Stygimoloch’ aka ‘the horned devil from the river of death’ lost its horns in adulthood.

Splendid to look at – I love the large images set against a plain white background – and likely to have a wide age appeal.

Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures
Emily Hawkins and Lucy Letherland
Wide Eyed Editions

This enormous volume – a veritable prehistoric journey of discovery – comes from the team behind Atlas of Adventures.
Herein, through a series of maps

and large colourful dino-inhabited scenes, readers are taken, one continent after another, on a world tour of the various different land regions over different eras, up to the late Cretaceous period when the creatures died out. This was due, it’s thought, to a massive meteorite colliding with Earth resulting in mass extinction that effectively ‘wiped out most of life on Earth.’
Thirty-one dinosaurs (or prehistoric reptiles) are featured (frequently hunter and hunted) but many others are also named and given brief descriptions in the richly coloured scenes within which they’re shown.

Various aspects of dinosaur life, including birth, learning to fly (that’s baby Pteranodons – ‘cousins of the dinosaurs’), to being killed by predators are included and each spread, in addition to the large descriptive paragraph, and the mini info-bank for each creature featured, is littered with relevant, and often memorable, facts. What child is likely to forget that ‘the ‘massive droppings of T-Rex were as long as a human arm and weighed the same as a 6-month-old baby’?
I’m less keen though on some of the visual humour. For instance the Leaellynasaurus (Australian) sporting a striped scarf and bobble hat; or the Oviraptors in what is now Mongolia, wielding what looks like a butterfly net, while perhaps appealing to dinosaur-mad children, to me seemed a tad too frivolous.
Nonetheless, this is a bumper feast of dino-info. and a novel way of presenting same. It’s likely to appeal widely: I certainly learned a fair bit from it.

Adventures Anyone?

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Atlas of Adventures
illustrated by Lucy Letherland
Wide Eyed Editions
The world is full of adventures’ declares the opening line of this very large, high quality book, and what better way to invite young readers to explore our world than that; and without having to move from the comfort of their own home or classroom. There’s a world map on the opening spread followed by a contents page showing the seven sections: Europe, North America, Central & South America, Asia & the Middle East, Africa, Australasia & Oceania and Antarctica that comprise almost all the rest of the book. Each of these sections has its own introductory map followed by spreads showing exciting places and experiences to be had by visiting say, the Northern Lights in Finland where you can sleep under the stars;

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or you might try covering yourself in mosquito repellent and becoming an explorer in the Amazon rainforest.
All manner of exciting opportunities and experiences, representative of the location, await both the reader and the nameless boy and girl travellers who appear in ‘Where’s Wally’ fashion at every location. Surprisingly, they haven’t hidden themselves more in the Holi Festival scene –

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that coloured powder is an absolute nightmare to get off your skin and forget trying with your clothes! Much more gentle is the showering of cherry blossoms you might receive by visiting the spring festival in South Korea. If sport is your thing, there’s snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, canoeing down the Zambezi or maybe a game of baseball in Central Park.
Each spread is packed with interesting facts and the illustrations themselves are full of detail, so both those who prefer to learn visually and those who prefer words are catered for. The latter will particularly enjoy the two main paragraphs on each spread and the shorter factual snippets scattered throughout the highly colourful, slightly retro scenes of the well-known and less well-known locations.
For sure this fascinating book is just the thing to inspire youngsters from, I’d say around six or seven, to find out more by travelling for real and it’s likely also to encourage empathy, excitement and endless curiosity about, and respect for, our world.
I’d definitely put a copy in every primary classroom from Y2 up.

All the characters in this story wanted was a trip to the seaside, but that in itself was packed with adventure:


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Happy Hooves Ta Dah!
A.Bogie and Rebecca Elliott
Fat Fox Books
Donkey and four other ungulate farmyard animals set off on a trip to the seaside. All goes well (they are on foot) until they reach a large cattle grid. No trouble for lively Donkey – he sails across but the others are less sure of themselves. However, despite their lack of confidence they do not lack resourcefulness, resolve or self-belief, so one by one over go Sheep,

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Foal and Pig leaving poor cow stranded on the wrong side of the grate. Is she to be left alone while the others continue to the beach? Of course not: friendship and co-operation save the day and eventually HIP! HIP! Hooray! all reach their destination …

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Wonderfully bright, mixed media illustrations by Rebecca Elliott (she of Just Because and Zoo Girl fame) and a jaunty, rhyming text with a repeat refrain – just the thing to engage young listeners and readers at home and in early years settings.

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