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Dinosaurs–Again

Don’t ask why–but if a child’s not interested in dinosaurs, you should consider calling the emergency room. Among the new books with dinosaurs, look at the low price Dinosaur Travel: A Guide for Families on the Go, by the skilled writer and artist team Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown (Little Brown, paperback, $5.95, ages 6 to 8.).
In full color comic strip format, the book is actually a small child’s introduction into the art and skill of travel–replete with advice that’s good for parents too–to travel light, to take along your “from eye soap,” your “stegosaurus shampoo,” your “tyrannosaurus tooth paste.” There’s advice for how to make the trip go easy, for changing the pace of travel by getting out to see the sights, hiking an occasional trail. There’s consideration of the diverse vehicles for getting from here to there.
Of course all this need not be put in a book in which it’s the dinosaurs that are going on the voyage–but that way it’s more fun. And so this is a fine one to give the little ones to encourage discussion before the trip. And as a bonus, in the back there are postcards to send to stay-at homes.
More serious, and really about dinosaurs, is Dinosaurium (“A Bank Street Museum Book” Bantam Books, by Barbara Brenner, ill. Donna Braginetz, $16, ages 7 to 12). The book is the closest thing to actually walking your way through a “dinosaur museum,” progressing through the prehistoric geological eons, juxtaposing various of these extraordinary creatures so you get a sense of relative size, exhibiting fossils, and “magnifying” various joints and bones for your closer inspection.
The pages devoted to the skulls, the enlargements of the jaws and teeth, imply information about the feeding habits of these giants, and to the degree that a child looks at the evidence and learns to draw conclusions, the child is learning how science works–how actually, to DO science. And that alone makes any book such as this worthwhile, for to instills habits of thought–mature, productive thinking strategies necessary for your child’s future in an information age.

Peter Neumeyer is a professor of English at San Diego State University and highly recognized in the field of children’s literature. He is the author, editor, or translator of 10 books and over 100 articles. His articles and reviews appear regularly in Mother and Parents’ Choice. In 1994, he published The Annotated Charlotte’s Web, and he is currently assembling his second collection of poetry.

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