The art doesn’t exactly soar, but younger readers may find these tidbits more digestible than the somewhat more technical...

NEFFY AND THE FEATHERED DINOSAURS

A young microraptor meets several of her Cretaceous cousins on the way to learning how to use her own feathered limbs to glide.

“ ‘Pterosaurs are so rude!’ clucked the confuciusornis.” As in Toby and the Ice Giants (2015), Lillington pairs lists of facts and descriptive notes set in a small typeface with an invented series of larger print conversational encounters between contemporaries (or at least rough contemporaries, as he properly notes at the end). Here, practically every creature Neffy sees after she tumbles from a branch and makes her way at ground level to a cliff’s edge sports feathers or featherlike features, along with pleasantly polysyllabic monikers like sinosauropteryx, gallimimus, nothronychus, and buitreraptor. The low-contrast illustrations make poor companions for all the precise and up-to-date paleontological information, though; several scenes are cramped and overcrowded, and along with the dull blobs of Neffy’s “iridescent black” plumage, much of the prehistoric cast is barely distinguishable in the leafy background murk. If it weren’t for Neffy’s puffinlike beak, readers would have a hard time spotting her in several illustrations. Modern humans, most of them dark-skinned, put in appearances at the end—digging for fossils in one scene and fleeing the episode’s entire extinct cast, drawn to scale and brought to life, in another.

The art doesn’t exactly soar, but younger readers may find these tidbits more digestible than the somewhat more technical anatomical details in Brenda Z. Guiberson and William Low’s Feathered Dinosaurs (2016). (glossary, map) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-909263-89-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010).

TOBY AND THE ICE GIANTS

A small bison meets some ice age megafauna in this prehistoric ramble.

Assuring his mom that “I’m big now. I’m not scared!” little Toby scampers off. He collides with a grumpy woolly rhinoceros, introduces himself to a Megatherium, wonders at a woolly mammoth’s tusks, and sidles anxiously past a handful of other Pleistocene creatures—including a group of fur-clad humans—before gamboling back to safety. Along with exchanged greetings, each encounter comes with a side box of descriptive facts and comments, plus a small image of the animal posed next to a human (in modern dress) for comparison. Young viewers will marvel at the succession of massive ruminants and predators, which Lillington renders in watercolors with reasonable accuracy, if anthropomorphic facial expressions. He offers measurements in metric units only (except for humans, whose weight is opaquely designated “average”). Rather anticlimactically, he caps his gallery with a perfunctory, unillustrated list of “some other amazing ice age animals that Toby didn’t get to meet!”

A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010). (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-909263-58-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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Chewy fare for fans of polysyllabic monikers but not a top-shelf prospect in the struggle to survive.

THE DAWN OF PLANET EARTH

From the Prehistoric Field Guides series

A chatty lungfish leads a quick tour of life’s evolution, from Earth’s formation to the appearance of early mammals in the Triassic Period.

“Hi. My name is Ackerley. I’m an Acanthostega.” Following introductions and quick peeks at fossilization and continental drift, the colorfully mottled narrator highlights or at least mentions around a dozen extinct creatures. These range from millipedes “the size of crocodiles” and Opabinia—“If there were a prize for The Weirdest Creature That Ever Lived, Opabinia would be a hot favorite”— to the shrewlike Megazostrodon. Though rendered in close, sharp relief, usually with mouths threateningly open (at least for those animals with visible mouths), Minister’s page-filling, digitally modeled figures often sport a shiny, plastic look. The artificiality extends to an obtrusive absence of blood and gore despite attacks and toothy chomping aplenty here and also in the co-published Dinosaurs Rule. Moreover, both volumes share substantial passages of boilerplate and mention animals that have no corresponding portraits. The closing recaps and indexes are likewise incomplete.

Chewy fare for fans of polysyllabic monikers but not a top-shelf prospect in the struggle to survive. (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-6348-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hungry Tomato/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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