It’s got a few quirky bits, but it’s lackluster overall.

A DAY AT THE DINOSAUR MUSEUM

Pop-up dinosaurs, both fossilized and fully fleshed out, join Mesozoic contemporaries in a series of museum displays.

The single-topic spreads are up-to-date but designed to evoke the dusty atmosphere of old-style dinosaur halls (emphasizing this conceit, some are even labeled “Rooms”). They combine cramped blocks of information in smallish type with images of beasts and bones done in a style that resembles the faded naturalism of early-20th-century museum murals—or, in the “Fossil Room,” a desktop covered in paleontological notes with paper clips and coffee stains. Occasional inset spinners and attached booklets supply additional dino details. A tab-activated flipbook attempts to demonstrate tectonic drift, but readers have to go fairly slowly to assimilate it all, which blunts the effect. Amid pale silhouettes representing modern museum visitors, the prehistoric creatures, nearly all of which are small and drably colored, rear up individually or parade along in sedate, motley groups until a closing display and mention of genetic engineering promise a possible future with pet velociraptors.

It’s got a few quirky bits, but it’s lackluster overall. (Informational pop-up picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9687-0

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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An engaging and informative true story of perseverance and discovery.

HOWARD AND THE MUMMY

HOWARD CARTER AND THE SEARCH FOR KING TUT'S TOMB

Fern and Kulikov, collaborators on the picture-book biographies Barnum’s Bones (2012) and W is for Webster (2015), bring the self-taught archaeologist who discovered King Tut’s tomb to life.

Howard Carter’s obsession with mummies began when he was a boy in England and visited a nearby mansion filled with ancient Egyptian artifacts. Carter dreamed of discovering a mummy himself. At 17, he took a job copying ancient art for the Egypt Exploration Fund. Awed by the art and architecture he sketched and copied, Carter was eager to make discoveries of his own. He taught himself the methodologies of archaeology, Arabic, geology, Egyptian history, and how to read hieroglyphics. As an antiquities inspector for the Egyptian government, Carter excavated several tombs only to find they had been looted. Undaunted, Carter devised a plan to excavate every unsearched inch in the Valley of the Kings. His dogged persistence paid off in 1922 when he discovered the treasure-filled tomb of Tutankhamun. Quoting from Carter’s own account, Fern infuses her story with excitement. She describes Carter as having a “funky personality” with a “stubborn attitude and worse table manners”; Kulikov’s exaggerated illustrations energetically capture Carter’s ambition and fascination with his subject.

An engaging and informative true story of perseverance and discovery. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-30305-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Solid interactive fare for younger STEM-winders.

DINOSAURS

From the Ultimate Earth series

A primary introduction to dinosaurs, with lots of flaps to lift and polysyllabic names to practice.

Melodrama trumps realism in the illustrations, as Shufflebotham picks hues for her stylized figures from the garish end of the palette and depicts most of her dinos in open-mouthed, menacing (if gore-free) poses. In contrast, the variously shaped and sized flaps are mostly used for informational purposes such as adding space for more pictures or transforming a fleshed-out specimen to a skeleton. Not all the dinosaurs are drawn to scale, but to compensate she adds translucent human silhouettes both to the simplified prehistoric backdrops and to some of the inset portraits. Baker’s commentary, divvied up into scattered one- or two-sentence bits, lays a sturdy foundation of fact by offering simply phrased observations about diet, defense, camouflage, and even evolutionary changes while replacing abstract numbers with vivid comparisons. Younger readers will find it hard to forget, for instance, that the teeth of T. rex were “each the size of a banana” or that Gallimimus “was as big as a rhinoceros but faster than a racehorse.” The author follows suit in the co-published Oceans and Seas, illustrated (in a more naturalistic style) by Gareth Lucas, by noting, for instance that “the colossal squid…can be as long as a bus.” Readers might wish for a little more information about some topics, such as just why or how the orca isn’t a whale but belongs to the dolphin family, but she does expand her survey of the oceans with mentions of plastic pollution and of waves as a source of “clean energy.” The movable elements in both outings are either folded from or firmly attached to sturdy stock.

Solid interactive fare for younger STEM-winders. (Informational novelty. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-944530-32-7

Page Count: 12

Publisher: 360 Degrees

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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