“ Hardcover: 40 pages / Publisher: Dorling Kindersley / Published: 27 Nov 2003 „
Not the usual reaction to a new book, but it suits this one. We have a very large collection of dinosaur books, so we really did not need another. I bought this book only because it has transparent overlays. This may not sound very exciting, especially when you realise you only get four of these wonderful see through pages, but I really do feel it adds value to a book, which happens to be very good on its own.
When I was young we owned a large old set of encyclopedias, and I very clearly remember playing with one which had overlay pages of a human body for ages. In fact even my older brother, who never liked books would play with this one. Something about it was fascinating and I really went out of my way to find something similar for my own children, but this type of thing does not appear to be in vogue anymore. More's the pity because it was great fun. I also have a personal theory, supported by quite a lot of reading and observation, that playing with books in a necessary prerequisite for developing reading readiness. I think children have a need to look through, explore and feel books before they start reading - and of course they can still enjoy things after they become literate as well. So I have a very large collection of books with all sorts of special features to encourage exploration, this is only one of many such features, but it does work quite nicely.
The overlays of this book allow a child to look inside of something. You can open an egg and see a baby Troodon curled up inside, turn the page of skeleton and see a full scale reconstruction of T-Rex made by analysing the bones with the help of a computer, see the results of an Allosaurus attack or look inside the head of Styracosaurus to see the muscle and bone underneath. Of course modern lift the flap books do exactly the same thing - and we have dozens of these, but the transparent overlays do look much nicer and of course they are something novel and different. They add and extra dimension to the picture, as well as having their own texture ( I do think the feel of books is important as well). And as my sons pointed out - they are shiny :) Most importantly though, they are fun, and I have enjoyed watching my children turn the transparent pages back and forth looking at the different pictures.
But as fun as the overlays are - they are still a bit of a gimmick, an extra, and the point of using such gimmicks to encourage children to explore books is mostly lost if the book itself is of poor quality. Fortunately - this is a DK Book, so I assumed it would be well written and well illustrated with high quality colour photographs, and once again my assumptions were correct. The book is very well written and beautifully illustrated. We do have most of the same information in other books - we have all of DK's newest and best dinosaur books. But there is some new information, and the book itself is very interesting and a pleasure to read.
This is an older book. It was printed in 2003 and Paleontology is a rapidly expanding science. Still this represented the absolute most recent discoveries of the time, and I have not found anything that would now be considered out of date. The book makes very clear though, that our knowledge of dinosaurs continues to change as new discoveries are made, and their representations of what these creatures may have looked like may be incorrect. Scientists can only make their best guesses based on the information available at the time. I quite liked this because the book is not teaching children " these are the facts " - it is saying this is what we think. It remains open minded and encourages children to do the same.
This book is only 36 pages, so naturally it can not tell us everything about dinosaurs. But it has enough basic information to be suitable as a child's very first book on the subject, and enough more detailed information to interest my children, and myself as well after having read several dozen dinosaur books. This is almost exclusively true dinosaurs. There is next to nothing on plesiosaurs or pterosaurs. Some of the main topics are a fossil find of Troodoon eggs and what we can learn from this, including the wonderful overlay to peek inside the egg, dinosaur family groups, classification of dinosaurs, changes of the earth over the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods,computer assisted restoration and models, paleontology today, and the missing links between birds and dinosaurs.
This is sadly out of print but used copies in very good condition are available through Amazon Marketplace for only £2.81. If you have a budding paleontologist in the family, or just a young child in the dinosaur stage, I really can't recommend this highly enough. In addition to our regular Christmas gifts we always have one toy and a book or too for Christmas night after all the fun is over. This would make a perfect wee extra for the end of the night, or just something to take with you and keep the children occupied when out and about visiting family over the holidays. Finally, at this price, even if you do not have children, a few books like this can be wonderful just for visiting children to glance through.
PS - if anyone has any brilliant books with see through overlay pages - please send me a message - I would really like to have a few more.