Dinosaurs: Gone But Not Forgotten | Focus On

Paleontologists are still unearthing the mysteries surrounding dinosaurs. It’s no wonder youngsters ask questions about when these prehistoric animals lived, what they ate, or even if they’re still alive. Digging for these answers is exciting and lays a foundation for further probing of our planet. In Adventures in Paleontology: 36 Classroom Fossil Activities for Middle School (National Science Teachers Association, 2006), Thor Hansen and Irwin Slesnick list biology, ecology, and astronomy among the 10 subjects covered in the activities for students. Armand Morgan, a museum educator at the Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven, CT, says, “The study of dinosaurs exposes children to some very basic concepts about the age of the earth, extinction, and how prehistoric animals are related to animals alive today.” The fun found in Jane Yolen’s How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? (2007) and the fascinating facts in Barbara Kerley’s The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins (2001, both Scholastic) are equally engaging. Because either approach will spark classroom investigation into the dinosaurs that dominated the landscape for an estimated 166 million years, this bibliography includes fiction and nonfiction. While pterosaurs and dinosaurs are two examples of the archosaur group, some of the books listed also include material on plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and other animals from that era. Helping students gain an understanding of what distinguishes each group is another fertile topic for study. Lessons on dinosaurs can also debunk the myth that all dinosaurs were huge, or begin an inquiry into why birds are considered to be living theropod dinosaurs. Whether it’s a serious discussion about what trackways tell us or a hilarious romp with an anthropomorphic T. rex, dinosaurs fire the imagination.


BROACH, Elise. When Dinosaurs Came with Everything. illus. by David Small. S & S/Atheneum. 2007. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-689-86922-8. K-Gr 3–A boy’s errands with his mother turn terrific when the doughnut shop, the doctor, and the barber give out dinosaurs. Mom is unsure about having a triceratops and stegosaurus in the backyard, but soon the beasts are cleaning gutters and working as a clothesline. Watercolor and ink pictures add to the fun. CYRUS, Kurt. Tadpole Rex. illus. by author. Harcourt. 2008. RTE $16. ISBN 978-0-15-205990-3. K-Gr 3-Vivid scratchboard illustrations and a rhyming text chronicle how Tadpole, tiny but undaunted, grows amid his dinosaur neighbors. Clever close-up and distant perspectives heighten the drama and add useful information. The author’s endnote explains frog development and how these creatures predate dinosaurs. Perfect for spring science lessons or discussions on courage. DIPUCCHIO, Kelly. Dinosnores. illus. by Ponder Goembel. HarperCollins. 2005. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-051577-5; PLB $16.89. ISBN 978-0-06-051578-2. K-Gr 2-While the dinosaurs sleep, Jurassic flora and fauna are revealed in simple verse. Balancing fun fiction and facts, the spreads show close-up views of dragonflies and amphibians while long-range landscapes feature exploding volcanoes and the splitting supercontinent. A suitable starter for many areas of scientific study. DONALDSON, Julia. Tyrannosaurus Drip. illus. by David Roberts. Feiwel & Friends. 2008. RTE $16.95. ISBN 978-0-312-37747-2. Gr 1-4-Really a duckbill dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus Drip’s identity crisis starts when his egg accidentally lands in a T. rex nest. Caught between opposing clans, Drip finally finds acceptance with the duckbills. Illustrations echo the theme as cool green and blue duckbills contrast with the fierce red and orange carnivores. FRENCH, Jackie. My Dog the Dinosaur. illus. by Stephen Michael King. Stone Arch. 2003. PLB $22.60. ISBN 978-1-59889-344-1; pap. $5.95. ISBN 978-1-59889-437-0. Gr 3-5-When Gunk rescues a dog from the animal shelter, he notices Spot’s long neck and strange fur, but it’s a while before he realizes that he’s adopted a dinosaur. Kids who dream of amazing pets will find the short chapters with black-and-white illustrations a good transition from easy readers. KING-SMITH, Dick. Dinosaur Trouble. illus. by Nick Bruel. Roaring Brook. 2008. Tr $14.95. ISBN 978-1-59643-324-3. Gr 3-5–When a young apatosaurus makes friends with a newly hatched pterodactyl, their families’ old prejudices are aired. The arrival of a menacing T. rex changes adult dinosaur attitudes, and a new collaboration eliminates their foe. A good transitional reader with manageable-length chapters and black-and-white illustrations. MOSES, Brian. Trouble at the Dinosaur Cafe. illus. by Garry Parsons. Walker. 2006. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8027-9599-1. Gr 1-3-In a rhyming text, Tyrannosaurus Rex stomps into a trendy lunchtime cafe threatening to gobble plant-eaters Iggy, Steggy, and Patty. Fortunately, Terry Triceratops arrives to subdue the big dinosaur, who promises to reform after Iggy tickles his feet. Double-page cartoon illustrations give a lighthearted look to the serious topic of bullying. MCMULLAN, Kate & Jim McMullan. I’m Bad! illus. by Jim McMullan. HarperCollins. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-122971-8; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-122972-5. K-Gr 2-T. rex traverses a bright swirling landscape looking, unsuccessfully, for something to eat. Along the way facts about this not-really-nasty creature are subtly shared. Hungry and cranky, the toothy terror is finally rescued when a much larger mom appears in a foldout page. Pure read-aloud fun. PALATINI, Margie. Gorgonzola: A Very Stinkysaurus. illus. by Tim Bowers. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-073897-6; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-073898-3. K-Gr 3-Amusing wordplay and hilarious illustrations make this tongue-in-cheek story an appealing introduction to the topic of personal hygiene. No one has taught Gorgonzola how to brush, floss, gargle, or scrub until a little bird insists he clean up his act. Once his stench is gone, he has new friends and a social calendar. PLOURDE, Lynn. Dino Pets. illus. by Gideon Kendall. Dutton. 2007. RTE $15.99. ISBN 978-0-525-47778-5. K-Gr 2-Bouncy couplets and richly hued illustrations describe a boy’s quest for a superlative dinosaur pet, but the biggest, fastest, longest, softest, smallest, and scariest all have shortcomings. The child’s solution–adopt the whole bunch. Endnotes identify each of the featured dinosaurs with a reminder that paleontologists are always making new discoveries. YOLEN, Jane. How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? illus. by Mark Teague. Scholastic/ Blue Sky. 2007. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-439-02081-7. K-Gr 2-Learning how to act in class is fun when the lessons are taught in lilting rhyme and include a cast of thoroughly humorous dinosaurs. While these giant creatures might be tardy, noisy, or fidgety, here they are models of politeness, cooperation, and neatness. Bright, double-page illustrations reinforce the theme.


AYLMORE, Angela. I Like Dinosaurs. (Things I Like Series). Heinemann Library. 2006. PLB $21.36. ISBN 978-1-4034-9264-7. K-Gr 2-Written as a child’s personal reflections, this easy reader gives good, basic information on tyrannosaurus rex, velociraptor, and triceratops. Full-page, earth-toned illustrations extend the simple narrative while photos reinforce fossil information. A first-rate model for students who want to make their own book or an expanded classroom compendium. BARRET, Paul M. National Geographic Dinosaurs. illus by Raul Martín. National Geographic. 2001. Tr $29.95. ISBN 978-0-7922-8224-2. Gr 4 Up-A thorough introduction moves into detailed full pages and spreads on 53 dinosaurs, documented with illustrations, photos, and charts. Maps, vital statistics, and fossil images are combined with text that reports on the discovery of each animal and facts uncovered during research. More than a dozen exceptional paintings showing dinosaurs in their habitats are interspersed. BERGEN, David. Life-Size Dinosaurs. illus. by author. Sterling. 2004. Tr $9.95. ISBN 978-1-4027-1775-8. Gr 3-8-With T. rex’s teeth as a centerfold, well-organized facts on dinosaur emergence, existence, and disappearance jump off the page. Life-size views include the heads of oviraptor, compsognathus, and dilophosaurus. These pictures are worth more than a thousand words, and the oversize format means everyone gets an eyeful. DIXON, Dougal. Amazing Dinosaurs: More Feathers, More Claws, Big Horns, Wide Jaws! 2nd ed. Boyds Mills. 2007. Tr $19.95. ISBN 978-1-59078-537-9. Gr 3-8-Divided into meat eaters, long-necked plant eaters, two-footed plant eaters, and armored dinosaurs, each spread explores specific facets of that dinosaur group. Vital statistics add to the vivid, occasionally updated illustrations in this second edition, and a dozen new discoveries are included. Perfect for compare and contrast lessons. DIXON, Dougal. Dinosaur. (DK Revealed Series). DK. 2003. Tr $12.99. ISBN 978-0-7894-9749-9. Gr 3-8-This survey title briefly covers feeding, conflict, history, lab work, extinction, and links to birds. Four acetate overlays add details to a troodon egg, a tyrannosaurus restoration, an allosaurus attack, and a frilled dinosaur. Pages concentrate on photos and drawings with useful supporting text and copious labels. DIXON, Dougal. If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today. Running Press. 2007. Tr $15.95. ISBN 978-0-7624-3142-7. Gr 4-8-Dinosaurs and the swimming and flying reptiles that existed with them are imagined in contemporary settings. A seismosaurus is pictured at the airport, tiny flying microraptors cling to the Statue of Liberty, and water-loving cryptoclidus hang out at the marina. Each oversize, colorful illustration is bordered with useful facts and a relative-size chart. GIBBONS, Gail. Dinosaurs! illus by author. Holiday House. 2008. RTE $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8234-2143-5. K-Gr 3-Well-chosen, minimal text is supported by colorful illustrations. Dinosaur taxonomy is covered with animals from seven major groups drawn and labeled on full pages and spreads. The link to modern birds, the work of paleontologists, and explanations of dinosaur extinction are also described. Terrific for introducing the topic. GOLDISH, Meish. The Fossil Feud: Marsh and Cope’s Bone Wars. (Fossil Hunters Series). Bearport. 2006. PLB $25.27. ISBN 978-1-59716-256-2. Gr 2-6-Initially friends, 19th-century American paleontologists Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope became bitter enemies as they competed for the best fossil finds. Though both men made important discoveries, they stole from one another during a 30-year “bone war.” Eventually, their fight cost them funding resources. Illustrated with maps and photos. HOLTZ, Thomas R., Jr. Dinosaurs: The Most Complete Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages. illus. by Luis V. Rey. Random. 2007. Tr $34.99. ISBN 978-0-375-82419-7; PLB $37.99. ISBN 978-0-375-92419-4. Gr 4 Up-An extensive dinosaur genus list, bold digitally painted illustrations, and abundant diagrams of dinosaur skeletons make this in-depth approach to the subject useful for reports but also interesting to browsers. An international team of experts adds insightful details and personal reflections on single-page entries interspersed throughout the text. JEFFREY, Gary. Stegosaurus: The Plated Dinosaur. illus. by James Field. (Graphic Dinosaurs Series). Rosen/PowerKids Pr. 2008. PLB $25.25. ISBN 978-1-4358-2503-1. Gr 2-5-After a brief introduction, a day in the life of a stegosaurus is depicted in a graphic-novel format. There’s plenty of action and a few interesting facts as fights with, and flights from, seven other dinosaurs are dramatically chronicled. The book concludes with information on stegosaurus fossils and the other dinosaurs in the book. KERLEY, Barbara. The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins: An Illuminating History of Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins, Artist and Lecturer. illus. by Brian Selznick. Scholastic. 2001. RTE $16.95. ISBN 978-0-439-11494-3. Gr 2-5-With paleontology in its infancy, Hawkins drew and constructed the first dinosaur models for London’s Crystal Palace. He was commissioned to create dinosaurs for Central Park in New York, but his efforts were thwarted by a corrupt politician. A real-life story, told with a perfect blend of informative text and evocative paintings. KUDLINSKI, Kathleen V. Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs. illus. by S. D. Schindler. Dutton. 2005. RTE $15.99. ISBN 978-0-525-46978-0; pap. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-14-241193-3. Gr 1-3-The author briefly examines how new discoveries alter past misconceptions about dinosaurs and candidly admits that there may never be complete explanations. Basic concepts are accessibly discussed using simple but effective text and uncluttered watercolor paintings. A short dinosaur discovery time line is a useful endnote. LARSON, Peter & Kristin Donnan. Bones Rock!: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Paleontologist. Invisible Cities. 2004. pap. $19.95. ISBN 978-1-931229-35-7. Gr 5 Up-Scientific information galore is presented in an appealing style with engaging, detailed text, clever mystery question sections, excellent color photos, and several appendixes. The enthusiasm is infectious, and a section with organization Web sites offers opportunities for budding paleontologists. For lesson-plan support, look at each chapter’s study questions and vocabulary list. MANNING, Phillip. Dinomummy: The Life, Death, and Discovery of Dakota, A Dinosaur From Hell Creek. Kingfisher. 2007. Tr $18.95. ISBN 978-0-7534-6047-4. Gr 4-8-This engaging narrative opens at a Cretaceous riverbank as a young hadrosaur dies. Fast forward 65 million years as teen Tyler Lyson’s discovery leads to Dakota, a rare dinosaur skeleton with mummified soft tissue yielding new scientific evidence. Photos and a first-person account by one of the project’s paleontologists document the discovery process. NORMAN, David & Anglea Milner. Dinosaur. DK. 2008. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-7566-3772-9. Gr 4-8-Each spread opens with concise, informative text supported by intriguing, captioned photos and drawings. Examples of claws, eggs, spikes, skulls, and plants provide visual context to a broad range of topics that include myths, unearthing discoveries, and reconstructing skeletons. Teachers will appreciate the laminated poster and CD with clip art. RUSHBY, Pamela, Mysteries of the Fossil Dig: How Paleontologists Learn About Dinosaurs. National Geographic. 2006. PLB $17.90. ISBN 978-0-7922-5953-4. Gr 1-3-Well-chosen photos and short chapters of informative text convey the process of recovering dinosaur fossils and deciphering their meaning. Details about how fossils are extracted on-site, then later studied and exhibited, give youngsters insights into the work of paleontologists. Perfect for beginning readers who prefer nonfiction. SAUTTER, Aaron. How to Draw Ferocious Dinosaurs. illus by Cynthia Martin. Capstone. 2007. PLB $23.93. ISBN 978-1-4296-0076-7. Gr 2-6-Not only are triceratops, stegosaurus, pteranodon, and plesiosaur drawn in five steps, but there are also instructions on how to sketch T. rex fighting. Each black-and-white spread is accompanied by brief information and suggestions to enhance finished artwork. Could be used to spark a dino poster contest. SHELDON, David. Barnum Brown: Dinosaur Hunter. illus. by author. Walker. 2006. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8027-9602-8; RTE $17.85. ISBN 978-0-8027-9603-5. Gr 3-6-Brown’s childhood fascination with fossils led to his long career at the American Museum of Natural History. Spurred by the museum director’s desire for an impressive dinosaur collection, Brown found the first Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton as he competed in the early-20th-century Dinosaur Rush. Oversize acrylic paintings enliven the simple text. SLOAN, Christopher. Bizarre Dinosaurs: Some Very Strange Creatures and Why We Think They Got That Way. National Geographic. 2008. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-4263-0330-2; PLB $25.90. ISBN 978-1-4263-0331-9. Gr 3-6-While Sloan cautions that many questions have no absolute answers, it’s definitely interesting to read about carnotaurus’s hard head, masiakasaurus’s serrated saber teeth, and tuojiangosaurus’s spikes. Each double-page entry includes computer-generated illustrations in subdued colors, most with close-up details. Vital statistics and an explanatory paragraph complete each dinosaur’s dossier. SLOAN, Christopher. How Dinosaurs Took Flight: The Fossils, the Science, What We Think We Know, and Mysteries yet Unsolved. National Geographic. 2005. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-0-7922-7298-4; PLB $27.90. ISBN 978-0-7922-7404-9. Gr 4-8-This careful examination of the connections between dinosaurs and birds is done in a question/answer format and includes fossil photos, evolutionary charts, and striking illustrations. Feathers figure large in this once-controversial theory. The book is thorough enough for those who want to dig deeper, with special “Closer Inspection” sections that distill ideas into enriching spreads. STEWART, David. Dinosaurs! illus. by Nick Hewetson. (World of Wonder Series). Children’s Press. 2008. PLB $29. ISBN 978-0-531-20450-4; pap. $9.95. ISBN 978-0-531-20541-9. Gr 1-3-A question/answer format touches briefly on topics such as dinosaur history, habits, and discovery. Full and partial illustrations of more than a dozen animals thread through the text and are identified by name with a pronunciation guide. Two acetate overlays add interest. Fun for browsing, but also useful for fact checking. ZOEHFELD, Kathleen Weidner. Dinosaur Tracks. illus. by Lucia Washburn. HarperCollins/Collins. 2007. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-029024-5; pap. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-06-445217-5. K-Gr 3-Focusing on ichnology, the study of dinosaur tracks, this book describes the conditions needed to make fossilized footprints and how the three main categories of tracks vary. It also looks at the habits revealed by trackways, a series of fossilized footprints. There’s a bit of history and a make-a-model-fossil project, too.
Barbara Wysocki (wysockB@aol.com) lives in Rocky Hill, CT, where she shares the position of Children’s Librarian at Cora J. Belden Library and visits the town’s Dinosaur State Park.

Media Picks

By Phyllis Levy Mandell Alphabet of Dinosaurs. CD. approx. 27 min. with hardcover book, poster. Soundprints (soundprints.com). 2007. ISBN 978-1-59249-724-9. $15.95. K-Gr 2–This CD of Barbie Heit Schwaeber’s book (Soundprints, 2007) opens with a song about dinosaurs that sets the tone for 26 rhyming four-line stanzas about these creatures, from Ankylosaurus to Zigongosaurus. Clear narration allows youngsters to follow along with the illustrated book. Dinosaur Bones. video or DVD. 10 min. (closed captioned). Weston Woods (scholastic.com/westonwoods). 2006. video, ISBN 978-0-439-90560-2: $60; DVD, ISBN 978-0-439-90567-1: $59.95; cassette with hardcover book, ISBN 978-0-439-90574-9: $24.95; CD with hardcover book, ISBN 978-0-439-90580-0: $29.95. PreS-Gr 2–Bob Barner’s rhyming text (Chronicle Books, 2001) presents interesting facts about dinosaurs. His collage illustrations are animated, and sound effects and a background score enhance the telling. Viewers learn about jaw, hip, foot, and skull bones and how they help scientists understand how dinosaurs lived. Dinosaur Holiday. CD. 35.34 min. Museum Music (museummusic.com). 2005, 2006 release. $15.95. K-Gr 3–Original songs about dinosaurs, written by the staff at the American Museum of Natural History, are sung to the tunes of traditional December holiday songs. The humorous lyrics include trivia and facts about these creatures and the prehistoric era. Broadway performers lend their voices to the project. Among the songs are “Hark! The Pterodactyls Sing” and “Deck the Halls with Stegosaurus.” NBC’s Al Roker expressively reads “The Dinosaurs’ Night Before Christmas,” a poem by Anne Muecke. How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? video or DVD. 8 min. with tchr’s. guide. Weston Woods (scholastic.com/westonwoods). 2002. DVD, ISBN 978-0439-90428-5: $59.95; video, ISBN 978-0-0439-0981-9: $60; cassette with hardcover book, ISBN 978-1-55592-099-9: $24.95, CD with hardcover book, ISBN 978-1-55592-138-5: $29.95. PreS-Gr 1–Jane Yolen’s bedtime poem (Scholastic, 2000) about how dinosaurs behave when getting ready for bed has been animated, capturing the intense colors of Mark Teague’s illustrations. Ten dinosaurs are identified in the story. Also consider the DVD of Yolen’s How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (Weston Woods). A T. Rex Named Sue. CD. 35.32 min. Music for Little People (musicforlittlepeople.com). 2005. ISBN 1-56628-386-8. $9.98. K-Gr 4–Jazz performer Al Jarreau narrates this intriguing album that celebrates the 5th anniversary of the discovery of Sue, the largest, most intact Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found, and its preservation at the Field Museum in Chicago. Storytelling is coupled with a variety of musical styles. Among the songs are “Fossil Hunter” and “Where Did the Dinosaurs Go?”

On the Web

Dinosaur Dig. http://sdnhm.org/kids/dinosaur/index.html. San Diego Natural History Museum. (Accessed 11/16/08) Gr 3-8–An interactive “Name That Reptile” game, FAQs about Jurassic Park and DNA, and fossil-hunting clues with photos provide good information along with fun. Download the “Jurassic Jumble” word search, or do it online. The Dinosauria. www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/diapsids/dinosaur.html. University of California Museum of Paleontology. Berkeley, CA. (Accessed 11/16/08). Gr 6-8–Text hyperlinks and subject buttons on many pages lead to sophisticated information with color illustrations and answer questions such as, “Are birds really dinosaurs?” An audio tour describes a Dilophosaurus discovery. Dinosaurs. http://paleobiology.si.edu/dinosaurs. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. (Accessed 11/16/08). Gr 5 Up–A first stop for report writers, this site offers extensive photos, good general information, and details on the museum’s collection. Highlights include a guide to museum dinosaur collections worldwide and a virtual tour with 3-D fossil specimens. Dinosaurs: Fact and Fiction. http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/dinosaurs. U.S. Geologic Survey. (Accessed 11/16/08). Gr 3-6–Short, straightforward text entries answer 20 common questions about dinosaurs and cover topics such as habitat, diet, appearance, names, and extinction. A reliable, easy-to-navigate resource. Sue at the Field Museum. www.fieldmuseum.org/sue/index.html. The Field Museum, Chicago, IL. (Accessed 11/16/08). Gr 4-8–Learn about Sue, the museum’s superlative T. rex fossil exhibit, with an interactive virtual dig, photo gallery, online quiz, timeline, and more.

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