Friday, November 23, 2007

Not Your Grandpa’s Dinosaurs

As a culture, we are fascinated by dinosaurs and, as a result, books on the topic are anything but scarce. Even so, Dinosaurs (Random House, 432 pages) by Thomas R. Holtz Jr. fits in a niche not as well padded out as some of the others because, while there are lots of dinosaur-related books for new readers and young children and many for adults, young adults have less of choice.

And the needs of these readers are different: they require more meat than younger children. They need more detail and scientific information. At the same time, it should be less sophisticated than the information a book for adults might include. Sure: we want young adults to have all of the information available, but it should be delivered in a way that is highly understandable and won’t deter them from their course of discovery.

Thomas R. Holtz’ Dinosaurs delivers on all of these demands, and more. The book has been written specifically for young adult readers, but from the perspective of a palaeontologist. The information is shared in a gentle and lucid manner and while the writing is crystal clear, he never, ever speaks down to his young readers.

It’s not possible to discuss this book without mentioning the illustrations. Luis V. Rey is one of the most respected illustrator of dinosaurs in the world today. Nor are these your grandfather’s dinosaurs: all monochromatic and covered by identically colored rubbery looking skin. Rey’s dinosaurs come in every hue of the rainbow. More. And they are covered in feathers and scales and tufts of strange fur.

Dinosaurs is a wonderful book. It’s encyclopaedic in scope and exceeds all expectations. A superior book the young dinosaur lover in your life will cherish.

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