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I love Christmas so much I just can't stand for it to end so quickly so I always save a small toy and a book or two for each boy just before bed on Christmas night after all the fuss is over. A new story makes the perfect way to end the day, and to allow the children to switch into a lower gear before bed. This year I was searching for a dinosaur pop up book since my sons both love our Encyclopedia Prehistorica books and this came up. Apparently the main selling point of this book is the fact that it makes sounds, but this is not the reason I purchased it, I bought this simply for the pop ups.
This book has a somewhat unusual format. When you first open the book you see an absolutely brilliant two page pop up scene. There is a very short paragraph giving some very basic information which would be suitable to read to very young children. The next set of pages does not include pop ups but has a small chart with numbers on each species and corresponding numbered paragraphs with the names and some details on each species. The text here appears aimed at older children. Sometimes my 4 year old will listen to these pages, other times he only wants to read the parts with sound and pop ups. Although these paragraphs are short - I feel the information would appeal to much older children - and I have to admit I've learned a few facts from this as well. The remainder of the book is mixture between pop up scenes with sounds and pages of text with species information. In total you get ten pop up pages (five scenes as each scene is two pages) , five sounds and five pages of text with more detailed information.
I do quite like this format as it means you can just read the pop up pages to very young children who are apt to be bored by too much scientific detail, but older children will find enough information to satisfy their curiosity and enjoy learning new facts as well. I have read some criticism of the text being too mature for younger children, but the beautiful thing about this book is that it allows you to choose. Read the short and simple text for young children, skipping the detailed species information or read the entire book to older children - or let them read it themselves. I think format makes this book suitable for a very wide range of ages. I believe even a older babies could enjoy looking at the pictures and hearing the sounds, with careful adult supervision. All pop up books can tear easily and very young children have a natural impulse to touch and feel everything, but my sons enjoyed pop up books from not much older than age 1. I know some adults do collect pop ups and the quality of the artwork in this book is certainly suitable for an adult collector. For the most part though - I would view this as a child's book and suggest and age range of 1 -12. My sons are 4 and 7 and both enjoy this - but the 4 year old certainly gets the most use from it. This isn't a reflection on the quality of the book for older children, my oldest just does not read the same books over and over nearly as often as my youngest.
All of the animals pictured on the first set of pages are from the Triassic Period. The majority are dinosaurs but some small rat like creatures are pictured as well and a few other prehistoric reptiles. Some of these the average reader may be hard pressed to guess if they qualify as dinosaurs or not - I had to look mecistrotracheos up myself, but it is not a dinosaur, but instead an archosauromorph - more closely related to crocodilians than dinosaurs. The next pop up scene has prehistoric marine reptiles, followed by scenes from the Jurassic Period and two scenes from the Cretaceous Period. It would take far too long to list ( or read) every creature shown, but some of the better known animals include : T Rex, Parasaurolophus, Troodon, Triceratops, Quetzalcoatus, Microraptor, Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Stegasaurus, Allosaurus, Lipleurodon and Plateosaurus.
The pop ups in this book are first class, they are absolutely beautiful works of art, and the pop up illustrations do make this book worth buying for any dinosaur lover or fan of pop up books. The text pages also have lovely paintings around the edges of various prehistoric creatures which really brighten these pages up. Illustration wise, thee are comparable with Encyclopedia Prehistorica and that is very high praise.
My son also enjoyed the sounds, but he wasn't expecting anything so any sound on a pop up book was a plus for him. Having read about this though, I was expecting just a bit more. I realise we can never know what dinosaurs really sounded like but I highly doubt they sounded so electronic. The sounds are played whenever a pop up page is opened but they are very short, filled with static and nowhere near as high quality of audio as the noisy dinosaurs we picked up in the pound shop. I timed the sound on each page and get exactly two seconds for each. This book currently sells for £10.58 new and delivered from amazon with prices being slightly less from Amazon marketplace, but I paid over £12 for this before Christmas. I have to admit - I would have paid this without sounds simply for the pop ups so perhaps I am being to harsh but I do feel the sounds should have lasted a minimum of 5 seconds, and been of far better quality. On the plus side though, this does have a battery compartment so the batteries can be replaced when they run done, meaning the sound feature should last many years. I have taken one star off for this - because I feel this fails to in the sound department - and I do feel a product should live up to what says on the tin - or in this case the back of the book. This does lot live up the publishers description.
Despite problems with the sound, I can not rate this too harshly. The fact is, my son loves it. I would have paid as much for such a high quality pop up book as special Christmas book, and it has more than lived up to expectations in the illustration department. These pop ups are not hastily stuck together gimmicks - as is the case with many pop up books but true works of art in my opinion. I believe exploring and playing with books is a key component to developing literacy, and encourages a child to really love books from an early age. This is certainly a book children will love and cherish which I feel may help develop a lifelong love of reading.