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By Damian Kelleher — Freelance journalist and children’s publishing consultant

For some roaring-good dinosaur reads, look no further than these little gems, says Damian Kelleher

Dinosaurium

Dinosaurium by Carey Scott (Dorling Kindersley, ISBN 1405326441)

From its lenticular dinosaur-eye cover, there’s something terrifying about the Dinosaurium – and it’s not just its size! Open up this huge book with its cardboard pages and inside you’ll discover no less than ten mini books just waiting to be explored. These detail everything – from comic-strip adventures covering the story of dinosaurs from egg to extinction, through to a miniscule manual called ‘Dino Dinners’ that takes a closer look at dinosaur diets. Most of the mini books have Velcro backings, so they slot back neatly into place after use. Although be warned: some of the books are so tiny that they may end up lost. Children will find the ‘book within a book’ format a novel idea (excuse the pun!), and have lots of fun exploring, and once they get over the novelty there’s still plenty of well-researched information. Still, at £19.99, it’s not the cheapest choice.

About Dinosaurs

Ask Dr K Fisher about Dinosaurs by Claire Llewellyn and Kate Sheppard (Kingfisher, ISBN 0753461064)

Now here’s a really clever idea. Dr K Fisher is an original way of presenting non-fiction to children in a fun and lively format. The dinosaurs write in to Dr Fisher for some advice on their problem-page style worries, and he responds with some interesting, funny and factual tips. So, to the Plateosaurus with wind problems, for example, he points out that all the plants these dinos eat are the culprits responsible for his excess gases, and goes on to say that his friends in the herd will have exactly the same problem. He also offers guides to dinosaur dating (how do males dinos beat the other boys to their dates?), nesting and defences. The text is accompanied by Kate Sheppard’s colourful and quirky illustrations that are a sheer delight.

Dino Dinners

Dino Dinners by Mick Manning and Brita Granström (Frances Lincoln, ISBN 1845076842)

Award-winning husband and wife team Mick Manning and Brita Granström put their own inimitable talents to splendid use here in a dinosaur book produced in association with the Natural History Museum. Each spread features a beautiful full-colour illustration of a prize dino specimen with an unusual poem that details its own unique eating habits. The dinosaurs themselves are accompanied by phonetic pronunciation guides (well how else would we know how to say ‘Euoplocephalus’?). Plus, there’s a collection of unusual info in a border that runs alongside each full-colour picture. Stylish, informative and perfectly pitched for its readers, this book gives real personality to these fascinating creatures. It also doesn’t dodge the dino droppings issue, so it’s guaranteed to keep children enthralled.

Tyrannosaurus Reg

Tyrannosaurus Reg and the Big, Scary Dinosaurs by Dan Crisp

(Scholastic, ISBN 9781407103372)

Using big, bold colours to maximum effect, this storybook about a tiny dinosaur is a noisy winner. Poor Reg is plainly petrified by some of the larger specimens that seem to dominate his world. Even when he splashes into the ocean to hide, Reg finds he’s tracked down by huge dinosaurs who intimidate him – and the same thing happens again when Reg retires to the swamp. Eventually, Reg is surrounded by a host of the scariest-looking dinosaurs imaginable, and there’s just one thing for it - he lets rip with a big, scary roar to see them all off. With peep-through holes and a real-life blood-curdling roar, this tantalising tale may not be full of factual information, but it’s strong, reassuring message will ensure children request this story again and again. You may want to silence that roar, though!

How do dinosaurs go to school

How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

(HarperCollins, ISBN 0007258178)

Continuing their popular How Do Dinosaurs? series, Jane Yolen picks up a selection of real dinosaurs and drops them into a classroom setting to show how they might behave. Yes, it’s wacky and silly and ever so slightly surreal, but it’s also very amusing. ‘Does he growl out of lessons, or roar out of turn? Does he make it too hard for the others to learn?’ asks Yolen, and Mark Teague provides wonderful, meticulous artwork of an irrepressible Stygimoloch misbehaving by banging away on a children’s drum and generally causing a rumpus. What makes the book special is the children’s reactions to the dinosaurs. There’s wonderment, affection, and even consternation – in fact, the dinosaurs evoke exactly the same reaction as they would if they were real children. The school illustrated here may be obviously American, but the appeal of this title is much more universal.

Brachiosaurus

Dinosaurs by Daniel Nunn (Heinemann, series of six titles)

The only frills you’ll find in this series are around the dinosaurs’ heads! There are six books in this non-fiction first dinosaur books series – Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus, Pterodactyl, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus Rex and Velociraptor – all aimed at very young readers, and they do exactly what it says on the tin. Although they are simple, no-nonsense affairs, usually written in sentences of no more than six words, a well-chosen mixture of computer-generated images and colourful illustration brings these books to life for the youngest readers. They also feature an index, a small picture glossary, and a quick quiz question at the end of each book so that young readers can identify that book’s particular dinosaur in its fossil form. Considering the age range they’re aimed at, though, a phonetic spelling for the dino names might have been a useful inclusion.

Got a book to add to this list? Then email your review to aboutbooks@scholastic.co.uk

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