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3 New Books for Kids



Three new dinosaur books for kids appeared recently and will be of 
interest to educators, parents and kids who are looking for the better 
books on dinosaurs for this age level.

Lauber, Patricia, and Henderson, Douglas (illustrator). _How Dinosaurs 
Came to Be_. New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1996.
    At long last, a high quality children's book that focuses on the 
origin of dinosaurs. It traces the evolution of reptiles and gives 
attention to the rise of the pelycosaurs, the therapsids, the 
thecodonts... And all with Doug Henderson's excellent paintings. The 
dinosaurs of the Triassic are sorely neglected (how many Triassic 
dinosaurs are represented in the Carnegie or Battat collections?), 
especially for the general public. This book fills a much needed void. 
More info than the casual reader will want, but the perfect book perhaps 
for inspiring more serious dinosaur study. (A powerful technique in 
learning about any subject is getting your feet wet with books written 
for younger audiences. The average teacher who presents a unit on 
dinosaurs would find this book very educational. I did. I think all of 
Patricia Lauber's books should be required reading for any educator who 
wants to present accurate information to kids about dinosaurs.)

Lessem, Don, and Peters, David (illustrator). _Raptors! The Nastiest 
Dinosaurs_. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1996.
    Tracy Ford mentioned this book a while back. The illustrations are 
great. The endpapers alone will help to put Velociraptor into 
perspective, showing four representatives of the Dromaeosauridae drawn 
(painted) to scale. I wish David Peters had included a human figure for 
comparison. As Dr. Holtz pointed out in a recent posting, "'raptor'" 
(without the apostrophe) is growing to become the common name for 
Dromaeosauridae." I understand Tracy's dislike for the use of "raptor," 
but it is probably no more disconcerting for most of us than "hippo" or 
"rhino." And since the evolution of language is as dynamic as the 
evolution of species, it is probably something that we couldn't stop if 
we wanted to. (Personally, I am still a little uncomfortable with the use 
of "T. rex.")

Dingus, Lowell, and Norell, Mark. A. _Searching for Velociraptor_. New 
York: Harper Collins, 1996.
    Whereas the Lessem/Peters book deals with the Dromaeosauridae in 
general, this book deals specifically with Velociraptor, detailing the 
expedition to the Gobi desert retracing the footsteps of Roy Chapman 
Andrews. Excellent color photographs document the entire process of 
finding, excavating, preparing, and displaying a fossil find. 
Unfortunately, for the section on mounting the fossil remains, it was 
necessary to substitute photos of a Tyrannosaurus skeleton being mounted. 
Worth adding to a library because of the attention to detail on what 
paleontologists and fossil preparators do.

----- Amado Narvaez
      anarvaez@umd5.umd.edu