OUTSIDE AND INSIDE WOOLLY MAMMOTHS

Just when you think there is nothing more to be said about woolly mammoths, Markle finds a way to present information in a fresh new way. Here she compares the preserved remains of woolly mammoths and modern elephants, showing similarities and differences in ears, coats, feet, teeth and diet. Throughout, she asks intriguing scientific questions while investigating the extinction of these ponderous mammals. For example, most elephants have large ears with many blood vessels that are used to reduce body heat when the weather is very warm. The mammoth, on the other hand, had very small ears, good for conserving heat in cold climates, but not useful in dispersing body heat when the climate grew warmer. Perhaps as the climate grew warmer, mammoths could not adapt, and they died of overheating. Clear, color photos are used throughout, and references are made to the tools that modern scientists use to study remains and learn more about extinct animals. Markle leaves the reader with a tease about the possibility of cloning mammoths, and encourages young science enthusiasts to go out and solve their mysteries. Solid science and a good but challenging read. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8027-9589-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2007

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A family story over 4 billion years in the making in a suitably ambitious format.

LIFE

THE FIRST FOUR BILLION YEARS: THE STORY OF LIFE FROM THE BIG BANG TO THE EVOLUTION OF HUMANS

Grand in scope, art, and trim size, a panoramic survey of this planet’s residents from earliest prokaryotes to our species’ first direct ancestors.

Opening with an enormous double gatefold headed “Here Comes the Sun,” Jenkins’ account begins at the beginning (when, as he puts it, “something happened”) and ends with the split 5 or 6 million years ago that led to chimpanzees down one line and humans down the other. In between, it presents the history of living things within a framework of extinction events, ice ages, and other climate-related shifts. Into this admirably coherent view of current thinking about our planet’s deep past he also crams technical nomenclature (“Among the new kinds of animals on land were different synapsid and sauropsid amniotes”), which, along with all the equally polysyllabic identifiers accompanying the illustrations, should delight young sesquipedalians. Baker-Smith’s paintings, a gore-free mix of full-spread color scenes and sepia or graphite galleries of individual figures, show off his versatility—some exhibiting close attention to fine detail, others being nearly abstract, and all (particularly an armored marine Dunkleosteus on the attack and a Tyrannosaurus that is all teeth, feathery mane, and wild eyes) demonstrating a real flair for drama. Design trumps legibility for a few passages that are printed in smaller type on dark or variegated backdrops.

A family story over 4 billion years in the making in a suitably ambitious format. (glossary, timelines) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0420-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick Studio

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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GIGANTIC!

HOW BIG WERE THE DINOSAURS?

O’Brien celebrates 14 prehistoric monsters by presenting each with a modern object or a human, thereby giving readers information about the size of these giants. Dinosaurs, in full-color and full-snarl, dominate the double-page layouts as they frolic and menace an airplane, fire truck, tank, automobile, and assorted people. For every creature, O’Brien provides the name, its meaning, and a brief line of text. Three of the creatures presented are not dinosaurs at all—Quetzalcoatlus, a pterosaur, Phobosuchus, a relative of the crocodiles, and Dinichthys, a bony fish—which the author mentions in the back matter. The illustrations are not drawn to scale, e.g., if Spinosaurus is really 49 feet long, as the text indicates, the car it is shown next to would appear to be 30 feet long. Readers may have to puzzle over a few scenes, but will enjoy browsing through this book, from the dramatic eyeball view of a toothy Tyrannosaurus rex on the cover to the final head-on glare from a Triceratops. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5738-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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