Dino-mite Picture Book Reads | Nonfiction Elementary Spotlight

Although these nonfiction picture book titles implement different design approaches, both will fascinate young readers.

Although these titles implement different design approaches, both will fascinate young readers. Sheneman’s humorous tone and bright cartoon illustrations make for a delightful reading experience. Simon’s straightforward text focuses on recent scientific discoveries without confusing academic jargon.

Sheneman, Drew. Dinosaurs Are Not Extinct: Real Facts About Real Dinosaurs. illus. by Drew Sheneman. 48p. HarperCollins/Harper. Oct. 2020. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062972347. 
K-Gr 4–Sheneman infuses this work with characteristic cartoon style and jokes. The illustrations depict striped and spotted dinosaurs coexisting until an asteroid strikes Earth, causing mass extinctions. But, as scientists have discovered, not all dinosaurs died. According to the text, “But while the big dinosaurs were no longer the planet’s dominant form of life—mammals now hold that title—many dinosaurs survived.” Today, they are birds. Effective spreads show the evolution of theropods, such as Tyrannosaurus rex, to birds. A helpful time line provides “Highlights of Avian History,” from the Jurassic period to the Quaternary period. Sheneman points out similarities in behavior, including hunting and nesting, and illustrates where humans encounter dinosaurs today. The text uses understated humor; for example, the asteroid strike is described as “a very bad day for the dinosaurs.” But a major source of the fun comes from dialogue expressed by the animals, such as a bird warning a cat to stay away from the birdbath because its cousin was a velociraptor. Even children who are too young to appreciate the dry humor will remember the narrative’s central thesis. VERDICT This light-hearted approach to dinosaur evolution will work well as a read-aloud introduction to the topic.–Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato

Simon, Seymour. Dinosaurs: Fact and Fable. illus. by Seymour Simon. 48p. HarperCollins/Harper. Nov. 2020. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062470645. 
Gr 3-6–Simon shares the newest facts about dinosaurs, fossils, and paleontologists. The book begins with the first discovery of dinosaurs and then describes how the definition of a dinosaur has changed over time. The first fossil hunters are briefly discussed, including Mary Anning. Simon explains how computerized tomography scans (CT) provide a three-dimensional look into the internal parts of fossils. CT scans have changed what scientists originally believed about dinosaurs, prompting new discoveries. The text also examines the Brontosaurus vs. Apatosaurus debate. Scientists originally thought the Brontosaurus fossils were the same as another dinosaur group called Apatosaurus. However, a new study published in 2015 revealed that the two fossils were different enough to be classified as separate groups. Brief paragraphs focusing on some of the most popular dinosaurs are featured, such as Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops. Every page offers fascinating facts that will satisfy even the most die-hard dinosaur lover. The full-color illustrations, photos, graphs, and maps enhance and clarify the text. Glossary words are highlighted throughout. An index and further reading suggestions are included. VERDICT Purchase if your ­dinosaur collection needs an update.–V. Lynn ­Christiansen, Wiley International Studies Magnet Elem. Sch., Raleigh, NC

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