The Secrets of Dinosaurs: PNSO Encyclopedia for Children

Brown. Apr. 2021. 240p. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781612545158.
Gr 3-7–“Oh, a gruesome fight is about to start!” “Even its friends don’t trust the Majungasaurus.” “In addition to its giant head, [Giganotosaurus] has many other big things.” Though set apart from the general run of dinosaur galleries by a relentlessly breezy narrative, this Chinese import (originally published in 2015) also offers some first rate paleo art, and an unusual—but not exclusive—focus on species first discovered in China. The dinosaurs, grouped by clade (Ornithopods, Marginocephalia, etc.) but otherwise arranged in no particular order, are rendered in dazzling hues with every scale, feather, and claw painted in sharp, fine detail. Some selections float on monochrome backgrounds; others are placed in natural settings in either static poses or (also unusual, at least in surveys aimed at younger American audiences) chowing down gruesomely on hapless prey. Along with stirring obvious inventions into a mix of up-to-date facts and speculations that are backed up by a large, if scholarly, resource list, Yang sometimes departs from adjacent illustrations to, for instance, describe distinctive tails that are cut off by the scene’s frame, or claim that the colorfully named Irritator ate fish when it’s shown noshing on a pterosaur. Still, even confirmed dinophiles are likely to make new discoveries here.
VERDICT Some conflicts between text and pictures aside, this is a likely hit for middle grade browsers and budding paleontologists alike—with read-aloud potential for younger audiences.

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