Sunday, January 22, 2006
Prehistoric Actual Size
Jenkins, Steve. PREHISTORIC ACTUAL SIZE. Boston: Houghton Mifflin ISBN 061853578. [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-5]
Like its predecessor ACTUAL SIZE (2004), this stunning picture book presents illustrations of animals reproduced to scale. Accordingly, readers get up-close and personal with the most massive creatures: we can only see a claw in the three-page fold out of 33-foot Baronyx; and a two-page view of 45-foot Gigantosaurus reveals no more than its menacing teeth. On the other end of the spectrum, tiny protozoa—one of the first animals on earth—appears on the first page as an easily overlooked speck. Jenkins presents the animals sequentially, ranging from protozoa’s appearance 550 million years ago to the relatively recent terror bird, which lived in South America 3 million years ago. On each page he tells readers how long ago each creature lived and provides one or two sentences of explanation with a pronunciation guide. For example “The bird-like Saltopus (salt- oh-pus), one of the smallest dinosaurs, was a swift runner.” He concludes with a brief explanation of how scientists use fossils to guess at the appearance of prehistoric animals. Finally, a visual glossary provides a smaller picture and amplified description of each featured animal.
Jenkins improves on the first book by including metric measurements in parenthesis. Sharpening the mathematical focus, a ruler is pragmatically printed on the book jacket: inches on the front flap and centimeters on the back. All this hard science merges beautifully with Jenkins’ signature cut paper collages that seem to jump off the page. PREHISTORIC ACTUAL SIZE will fascinate young readers with a uniquely high interest blend of science, math, and art.
Children will enjoy measuring some of the dimensions for themselves. Venture outside and walk off 45 feet—the length of the massive Gigantosaurus. Estimate how many children, lying head to toe, would form a line that long.
Other dinosaur resources for young readers:
Aliki. WILD AND WOOLY MAMMOTHS. ISBN 0064461793
Lambert, David. DINOSAUR ENCYCLOPEDIA: FROM DINOSAURS TO THE DAWN OF MAN. ISBN 0789479354
Turner, Alan. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PREHISTORIC MAMMALS. ISBN 0792271343
By Suzy Parchman