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The fantastic publisher FirstSecond, whose motto is precisely and perfectly, "Great graphic novels for every reader," started a new non-fiction series for kids this year. Science Comics: Get to Know Your Universe debuts with superb creators and subjects, Coral Reef: Cities in the Ocean by Maris Wicks and Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers by MK Reed and Joe Flood.
Wicks, author of the excellent non-fiction graphic novel for kids, Human Body Theater, worked as a part-time program educator at the New England Aquarium and just spent two months doing scientific outreach for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on board the R/V Atlantis! Her passion and knowledge shine through in Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean and her introduction is definitely worth reading, especially when she tells readers that we, "make choices that impact the environment with every dollar you spend, every action you take, and every vote that you cast," and encourages us to plant a milkweed, listing all the benefits of giving Monarch butterflies a food source and breeding habitat that can trickle down and benefit the dying coral reefs. With humor and an understanding for her audience, Wicks starts big with a first chapter titled, "What is Coral?" describing the classification system. Chapter Two, "How and Where Coral Reefs are Formed," where I learned that, despite the fact that coral reefs occupy about 1% of the earth's surface, cora reefs are home to more than 25% of all the animals found in the ocean! Chapter Three, "The Coral Reef Ecosystem Explored" takes a closer look at the 25% of the sea life living there and Chapter Four, "How are Coral Reefs Connected to the Rest of the Planet?" is the longest and possibly most important chapter in the book. From start to finish, Wicks makes Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean as vibrantly bright and compelling as a healthy coral reef with her popping palette and engaging writing style. A glossary, bibliography and additional resources included in the back matter.
I have to, with great embarrassment, confess that, despite learning a fair bit about dinosaurs as each of my three children went through that phase of fascination, I tend to think of them as static. Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers, by MK Reed and Joe Flood, with an introduction by a dinosaur expert, changed my mind in a big way. In his introduction alone, Leonard Finkleman, Ph.D points out the many things that continue to be discovered about dinosaurs, as well as dinosaurs themselves, including the fact that once we didn't even know that dinosaurs lived on every continent. He goes on to write that Reed and Flood bring a "balance of science, philosophy, and history," to their book that is, "informative, funny, and, above all else, imaginative," noting that the lesson of Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers is that scientific discovery is very different from normal discovery. Finkleman writes, "Rather than limiting our imaginations, scientific discovery lets us imagine more about the world around us." With that in mind, Wicks and Flood follow paleontologists through history as they try to solve the greatest mystery of all, what happened to the dinosaurs?
Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers begins with a little time traveling, showing readers how ancient humans discovering dinosaur fossils thought they were anything from cyclopes to elephants to griffins. In the year 1800, these ideas changed radically when Mary Anning made remarkable finds on the Dorset coast, spending the next 35 years fossil hunting. They also detail the backhanded, sometimes dishonest machinations of the men who made these discoveries and pronouncements and delivered papers about these dinosaurs.
Joe Flood's illustrations are perfectly matched to the subject matter of Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers. While the illustrations of the dinosaurs are full of action and expression. The panels with humans present more of a challenge, because of the mostly Victorian time period and somewhat static nature of their roles int he story, yet Flood makes these compelling, especially through the expressions of the characters. There are notes, a glossary and further reading as well as two superb representations of the periods of the dinosaurs. Despite all this amazing information and illustrations, my favorite part of Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers comes at the end when the author and illustrator put themselves on the page an error in the text. There are 11 years between my oldest and youngest child. I learned that the big herbivore with the long neck was called the brontosaurus when my first child went through her dinosaur phase. By the time my youngest was going through his we learned that it was now reclassified as an Apatosaurus. On this page, Reed and Flood explain that, a few weeks before this book was due at the printer, researchers concluded that there was in fact enough difference between the two to make the Brontosaurus its own genus again, with a fact box noting that the Brontosaurus is now, "MK and Joe's least favorite dinosaur." With humor and knowledge, Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers proves that dinosaurs are anything but static.
Dinosaurs, literally meaning 'terrible lizards', were first recognized by science, and named by Sir Richard Owen (who preferred the translation ‘fearfully great’), in the 1840's. In the intervening 170 years our knowledge of dinosaurs, including whether they all really died out 65 million years ago, has changed dramatically. Take a crash course on the history of the dinosaurs with our infographic.
Control chicken embryo, altered chicken embryo and alligator embryo
Scientists at Yale University in New Haven succeeded last year in combining the DNA of a chicken and an alligator to create what some have called a "dino-chicken."
The experiment by Bhart-AnjanAbzhanov involved repressing the beak-development genes to allow more primitive features, left over from their Mesozoic ancestors, to emerge.
According to BBC, in their newest experiment, Abzhanov and his colleagues have added to that genetic blueprint the DNA information recovered from a well preserved Oviraptor fossil collected in the Liaoning province of China.
Unlike from the killer "raptors" of the Jurassic Park franchise, these new animals exhibit what Abzhanov describes as "an unmistakable sense of humor, and an "apparent desire to communicate using a suite of facial expressions and language-like calls."
Surprisingly, the animal exhibits a significantly larger cognitive capacity than the researchers expected. Three of them has taken up residency in Yale's AI lab, where they have learned to operate computers and have used them to further alter the structure of their own DNA.
Yale has filed for a patent for the new animal, which they have dubbed Galloraptor ludificus. They announced yesterday that they plan to introduce Galloraptors into the marketplace as companion animals for the elderly.
Dinosaur Rocket! is the fourth book in British author and illustrator Penny Dale's dinosaur-transportation series and I just had to review it because, well, dinosaurs in space!
Dale's text is energetic, with a sing-song-y pace. While she keeps her text simple, her illustrations are filled with details that little listeners will love. Reading Dinosaur Rocket!, I almost forgot that this was a dinosaur book as I was poring over every page. My favorite, which I couldn't find an image of, is the dinos boarding the capsule after taking the long elevator ride up to the top. A helicopter hovers nearby and emergency vehicles, hangars and buildings can be seen on the ground below - a great perspective. Once on the moon, there is all sorts of equipment for doing research, lunar rovers and some laughing, "playing and floating in space! Floating in space and playing soccer!" Dale keeps a sense of playfulness throughout that young readers will love.
Dale ends Dinosaur Rockets! spectacularly, with the capsule landing in the ocean, an aircraft carrier nearby, sea helicopters taking off to pick up the space travelers. And best of all (as if it could get much better) the end papers for Dinosaur Rockets! begins with images and names of the dinos in the book and ends with the images and names of the vehicles and equipment used in the book!
More DINOSAUR books by Penny Dale!
Source: Review Copy
And, if your little dinosaur-transportation lover needs more, don't miss Deb Lund and Howard Fine's Dinosoaring
My Barnyard!: A Read and Play Book!
Written by Betty Schwartz and Lynn Seresin
Illustrated by John Bendall-Brunello
Cartwheel Books 6/30/2015
10 pages Age 3—5 My Dinosaurs!: A Read and Play Book Written by Betty Schwartz and Lynn Seresin Illustrated by John Bendall-Brunello Cartwheel Books 12/30/2014 978-0-545-69076-8 10 pages Age 3—5
“A new novelty book featuring six large puzzle pieces that won’t get lost. Learn all about barnyard animals (and dinosaurs), as you match each animal piece to its appropriate spread.”[authors]
Review My Barnyard will be loved by young children who are interested in animals—and what child is not? The rhyming text tells the story of each animal’s day, starting with the chickens and the sheep.
“CHICKENS ‘cluck’ as they go, With their little chicks in tow. SHEEP are fluffy and eat grass. They say ‘baaaa!’ as their lambs pass.”
The name of each barnyard animal is capitalized and color-coded to match its cut-out and attached ribbon. I love the color-coded ribbons. What a nice addition to My Barnyard and a thoughtful hint for young children as they match each animal into its corresponding space. At the end of the story, the six animals meet up in the final spread. Little fingers will appreciate the colorful cardboard cutouts and the size of the book, which are a perfect fit for little hands. My Barnyard has thick, glossy pages that will stand up to sticky fingers—cleaning off quickly—and rough handling, as young children learn to turn pages.
Kids will squeal with delight at the sound of each animal’s call, be it the “baa” of the sheep or the “oink-oink” of the pig. The rhyming text is a joy to read and won’t get on a parent’s “last nerve” when read for the tenth time that morning. Having young children “speak” for the animals will increase the joy of this board book for the youngest of beginning readers. My Barnyard is a perfect complement to MyDinosaurs, the first in this board book in this series by the talented team of Betty Schwartz and Lynn Seresin.
In My Dinosaurs, six different dinosaurs, again with color-coded names and matching ribbons, fit their corresponding cutout spaces nicely. Four of the dinosaurs make-up the cover, just as three of the barnyard animals help make that cover come alive. My Dinosaurs has all the benefits of My Barnyard, as I hope each new book in this series will have. Young boys will especially love My Dinosaurs, but don’t count out the girls. The dinosaurs are realistically brought to life by artist John Bendall-Brunello, who also illustrated My Barnyard.
Young children and their parents will love this new Read and Play board book series from Cartwheel Books (an imprint of Scholastic). The books are realistically drawn and offer young children the opportunity to learn about animals as they listen to the stories and then place each animal in its correct environment. The rhyming text is expertly written in each book. Young children will want to go through these books on their own, “reading” the words—from memory or imagination—and having a blast with each turn of the page.
ALSO BY BETTY SCHWARTZ & LYNN SERESIN Hop, Hop Bunny (A Follow-Along Book) (reviewed HERE) Run, Run Piglet (A Follow-Along Book) Ten Playful Tigers (A Back-and-Forth Counting Book) (reviewed HERE) Busy Little Dinosaurs (A Back-and-Forth Alphabet Book) (reviewed HERE) You’re it, Little Red Fish (A Back-and-Forth Colors Book)
. Full Disclosure: My Barnyard! A Read and Play Book! And My Dinosaur! A Read and Play Book!, by Betty Schwartz and Lynn Seresin & John Bendall-Brunello, and received from Cartwheel Books, (an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.), is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
If you had the good fortune to read Alphablock and Countablock by Christopher Franceschelli and the husband and wife design team Peskimo, then you don't need to keep reading this review of their newest book, Dinoblock, because you know you need to buy this book now. If you haven't seen these brilliant, beautiful, completely engaging books, get your hands on them! Get two, actually,
Enter to win a copy of Ancient Earth Journal: The Early Cretaceous (Quatro Kids Books, 2015), written by Juan Carlos Alonso and Gregory S. Paul.
Giveaway begins August 31, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends September 30, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.
Now ask any dino-mad four year old about a T-Rex’s favourite food and they’ll know: T-Rexes love their meat.
So what happens to poor Reg when it turns out he loves…. veg? Will his dino friends still accept him as one of their own? Will Reg be brave enough to be true to himself?
T-Veg: The Tale of a Carrot Crunching Dinosaur written by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and illustrated by Katherina Manolessou is a vitality packed, vibrantly illustrated tale about breaking the mould and learning to embrace difference. From the zest and zing of Manolessou’s bold and almost day-glow dinosaurs, to the bounce and energy-packed rhymes of Prasadam-Halls, this is the picture book equivalent of a super healthy, organic, freshly-pressed and delicious smoothie. As if packed with key vitamins and minerals it will lift your mood and put a spring in your step!
The book’s recipe mixes:
1 part Humour (kids – especially those whose veg is only ever smuggled surreptitiously into their diet – will delight in the crazy notion of a veg-loving T-rex)
1 part Emotional Meat (exploring daring to be different and being a good enough friend to recognise when you are wrong)
2 parts Visual Richness (intense patterns add depth to the eye-catching illustrations).
All are combined to serve up an extremely tasty treat whatever your preferred diet!
Letting the kids invent a new vegetarian meal. This has become a favourite activity with M: I let her choose what vegetables she wants, she chops them up, adds the herbs and spices she likes, and roasts them all in the oven. We’ve had some delicious (and different!) meals as a result. M really likes to use The Flavour Thesaurus when she’s planning a new dish.
Trying the vegetable challenge. Visit the (super)market and see if you can identify every vegetable on sale. Be brave and choose one new vegetable to try!
If you liked this post you might like these other posts by me:
Investigating the dinos in your home and putting them in a time line. Like us you might find there is an unexpected bias towards dinos from the Cretacous, not the Jurassic as you might have thought.
Dino-Boarding Written by Lisa Wheeler Illustrated by Barry Gott Carolrhoda Books 9/01/2014 978-1-4677-0213-3 32 pages Age 4—8 A Junior Library Guild Selection “Team Green Machine battles the Shredding Crew for dino-boarding domination! Allo and Diplo thrill the surfing crowd, while Compy comes up short on a short board. …
The Monster Who Ate the State Written and Illustrated by Chris Browne South Dakota Historical Society Press 9/25/2014 978-0-9860355-9-3 32 pages Age 5+ “ROAR! Soozy the dinosaur is awake and HUNGRY! “Bang, bang, tap, tap—the scientists at an underground laboratory in South Dakota are busy with their experiments. A creature …
As of November 10, 2015, BORROWED TIME (the sequel to CHRONAL ENGINE) is now available in bookstores everywhere as well as online (in hardcover and ebook)! Signed copies are available from BookPeople.
In an article titled, 'Borrowed Time' mixes paleontology and fantasy, Saturday's Austin American-Statesman had a great review of BORROWED TIME, stating it's "a slam-dunk for dinosaur aficionados and will appeal as well to those who are fans of literary time travel and outdoorsy adventure."
The dinosaur standees for the photo booth were a hit, as were the refreshments including water, soft drinks, wine and cheese, and crackers. (The wine, from the Languedoc region of France, is made from grapes grown in Cretaceous clays where dinosaur fossils have have been found).
But the real eye-opener was the mosasaur cake by author/cakelustrator Akiko White. About two feet high, it featured a mosasaur sculpted from modeler's chocolate on a chocolate cake base with buttercream frosting! She'll be doing a youtube video on the making of it soon (and I'll link when it's available). Suffice to say that still pictures don't do it justice -- it was mounted on a motorized turntable and illuminated with a blue strobe that made it look like it was underwater!
Here are the pics:
Me and cake
Carmen Oliver and T.rex
Akiko assembles! (photo courtesy Akiko White)
Presenting (photo courtesy Akiko White)
Frances Hill and Lindsey Lane (photo courtesy of Shelley Ann Jackson)
Shelley Ann Jackson and Lindsey Lane (photo courtesy Shelley Ann Jackson)