Christopher Sloan’s Bizarre Dinosaurs: Some Very Strange Creatures and Why We Think They Got That Way published by the National Geographic Society in 2008 is a great book for kids.
Sloan is a paleontology expert and senior editor for National Geographic magazine and I noticed some of the information was written from his point of view when he was with the paleontologist who found the dinosaurs that are featured in the book. Drs James Clark and Cathy Forster also wrote a foreword for the book, they are paleontologists who not only discovered some of these dinosaurs but also teach at George Washington University.
This 32-page book comes with Table of Contents, a Foreword, Glossary, a breakdown of where some of the dinosaurs lived millions of years ago and an Index and Credits page.
The pictures are computer graphics created by artists with the help of scientists.
Each of the 11 dinosaurs get a two page spread with a computer generated picture and a picture of the fossils found of them plus information gathered and questions raised about the animals; it also comes an Expert Knowledge portion stating the name, pronunciation, year named, type of dinosaur, normal adult size, stomping ground, when it lived and what it ate. There is also a graphic of how big the dinosaur was in relation to an average sized man.
The illustrations are the main part of the book to me because I can see what the dinosaur probably looked like back then. The writing is simple and chocked full of information for kids to learn and questions the scientists couldn’t answer.
I think my favorite dinosaur is the Dracorex hogwartsia, meaning “dragon king of Hogwarts”. This plant eating dinosaur had “helmetlike bony domes on their head” making it look like a dragon.
A great reference for kids to use on a school project and to learn more about the ever changing landscape of paleontology.
Celia and the Fairies by Karen McQuestion is about a ten-year-old girl named Celia Lovejoy. When Celia’s grandmother moves in with her family, she tells her granddaughter magical stories of fairies living in the woods behind the Lovejoy home. Celia believes they are just stories until she receives an unexpected visit from Mira, a real, live fairy.
Mira begs for Celia’s help. It seems that Celia’s house and the adjoining woods are in danger of being demolished to make way for a new highway. Vicky McClutchy is a spiteful woman who holds a childhood grudge against Celia’s dad and is the one behind this evil plan. Fairy magic can counteract this evil, but it will only work with Celia’s help. But to do this Celia must go into the woods at night and conquer her greatest fears.
This book is for ages nine to 12 but I enjoyed it and I am much older than that. There are no illustrations inside this 140-page book but the chapters are short ranging from one to four pages.
Since the main character is only ten the vocabulary is also age appropriate. When her parents or the fairies use an unrecognizable word Celia asks for the meaning and it is explained in terms she understands.
The plot is fast paced with lots of action that will keep kids interested in reading. Kids can relate to the protagonist because of the issues she faces such as Celia’s embarrassment when she is seen talking to a younger boy.
I picked this book up at BookExpo America in May 2011 and it is an Advance Readers Copy but I really liked the cover (see attachment) of a girl in the woods holding a fairy and the fun font; it seems magical.
This book also came with a lesson which I liked because I always try to live this way: to see things from other points of view and realize how your actions affect others. Basically a lesson about the power of ordinary kindness.
MASQUERADE by Kit Williams, published in January 1987, who is also the author as well as the illustrator. This book is said to be one of the first “armchair treasure hunts.” Williams worked on these paintings for more than two years and he wanted to make sure people kept coming back to the book so he devised a plan where he would hide a treasure and the clues to this buried treasure would be in this book.
When I was little my mom picked this book out because of the beautiful pictures, she thought it was “a really pretty book.” The story is about the Moon falling in love with the Sun and asks the Hare to give a gift to the Sun for her. On his way there the Hare must go through earth, wind, fire and water and along the way he loses the gift. Also in the pictures the Hare can be seen in every painting, sometimes it easy to spot the Hare in others not so much.
I couldn’t figure out the answers to the riddles either:
“Fifty is my first,
Nothing is my second,
Five just makes my third,
My fourth a vowel is reckoned,
“Now to find my name,
Fit my parts together,
I die if I get cold,
But never fear cold weather.
I am the beginning of eternity,
Followed by half circle, close on by half a square,
Through my fourth my fifth is seen,
To be the first in every pair.
My sixth begins my seventh,
The end of time and space,
Not put my parts together to see what’s taken place.
The text goes with the illustrations. The paintings bring out one aspect of what the text says on the opposite page. The illustrations are so elaborate that you can’t stop looking at the picture because you have to see what else is there.
The age group for this book varies. I remembered I liked looking at the pictures but the story was confusing and intriguing at the same time. It was so nonsensical. Adults liked the book because they wanted to figure out where the treasure was buried.
Even the jacket is alluring and pulls the potential reader in. The colors are so dramatic and the main focus is a tree with all sorts of things in it, such as: a half moon looking down at a boy with a rabbit mask; pink flowers (like buttercups); a thorny stems enveloping the tree plus a town in the background.
I like the name and I think it suits the book. It’s a treasure hunt masquerading as a beautiful book.
I think the only thing about the book that didn’t work is it language. I don’t think young children would understand some of it:
The Lady Moon, disregarding all advice given to her by the other celestial bodies, had disobeyed Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation, and instead of continuing her dance in her prescribed orbit, had stayed behind to watch with anticipation the progress of the little hare. It was in thus doing that the unhappy Moon was the instrument of her own undoing.
When the lady realized what she had done, and saw the hare falling out of the sky and all the other animals running in terror for their lives, she opened her mouth and SCREAMED. A horrible, silent, ghostly scream. The sort of scream that will turn the milk, sour the cream, blight a crop, and lame a horse as it stands in its stall. All the horrors of the night came forth in this one dreadful scream.
I think this book would be great for parents to read to their children and discuss what the story means and look deeply and wonderingly at the paintings.
Each Peach Pear Plum written by Allan Ahlberg and illustrated by Janet Ahlberg is published by Puffin Books an imprint of the Penguin Group. It was first published by Viking in 1978 and that same year won the Kate Greenaway Medal.
I like this 32-page book because of the detailed illustrations and its interactive text. On the first page the reader is introduced to Tom Thumb by trying to find him in the picture. On the next page it continues with the same character but the reader has to find the next character in the ‘I spy’ game:
Each Peach Pear Plum
I spy Tom Thumb
Tom Thumb in the cupboard
I spy Mother Hubbard
Mother Hubbard down the cellar
I spy Cinderella
Each rectangular page tells the reader who they need to find. All the characters are from nursery rhymes and fairy tales. At the end of the book they come together to eat a plum pie. Combine that with their rhyming text and excellent illustrations it makes for a perfect board book.
The book is made of heavy cardstock perfect for babies to hold and gnaw on but still perfect for one to three-year-olds. The story and illustrations makes it perfect for parents to read to their children.
The text is a large Times font making it easy to read and see for toddlers on the left-side page. On the right side page the illustrations have one character in plain view for everyone to see and the other character hidden in the illustration for the child to find. On the page where Cinderella is dusting the banister, the Three Bears can be found looking through the window. To find them the child has to see past the dog sleeping on the couch; the towel and socks drying at the foot of the stairs; a broom and a mop bucket leaning next to the drying laundry; a flower pot on the windowsill; a fireplace with a kettle sitting over it; and a butter churn.
I obtained the book from the library but it sells for $6.99 which is the going rate for most board books.
Each Peach Pear Plum is a perfect addition to Penguin’s board books. Other books they publish through their imprints are by Eric Carle, Beatrix Potter, Eric Hill’s Spot books, A.A. Milne, etc.
I liked reading this book just to see how the character was hidden in the illustrations. Plus it has the perfect ending for children, all the characters from Tom Thumb to The Three Bears to the Wicked Witch to Robin Hood all gather around a table laughing and eating plum pie.