Oct/Nov 2010 Reviews & Interviews

Not Your Parents' Dinosaurs...

Dinosaurs Eye To Eye
John Woodward.
Digital Sculpture by Peter Minister
DK. 2010.
ISBN 0-7566-5760-4.

Review by Colleen Mondor

Buy now from Amazon! There have been, it seems, a zillion dinosaurs books published over the years. I approach new titles with a bit of a jaded outlook—you need to offer me something really unique on the subject in order to impress me at this point. Dinosaurs Eye To Eye has not only John Woodward's informative text but the amazing illustrations produced by Peter Minister's computer graphics to really blow your mind. This is full on, explosive, knock-you-down-color (and every color you can imagine) along with stripes and feathers and scales of all manner and measure. There is nothing dull (or reptilian) about these dinosaurs—they mimic much more their ornithological descendents and their behavior, both to fit into their environment and to standout to potential mates. As Woodward explains in the section on "Plates and Spines":

Over time the armor became more elaborate, and while it remained partly defensive, it also became important for display and ritual combat between rivals, like the antlers of modern deer. The result was a wonderful variety of flamboyant plates, spines, frills.

Woodward and Minister are not the first to present dinosaurs in a more colorful light but DK's oversized design and first class treatment of the subject (it's DK—they never disappoint on design) really makes their subject pop. It's not all pretty pictures however—there is a nice feature, "Fast Facts" on each page which shows readers where and when the animal lived, its size, diet and what its name means. There are also some skeletons and fossils depicted and a look at the environments they lived in. Woodward's text points out interesting features on each of the animals (from teeth to wings to claws) and rather than getting heavy with the words, uses a structured format of short paragraphs and arrows to keep the pages dynamic. Again, this is points awarded for design and it shows how not only are the words on each page significant—but so is how they are placed on the page.

As I said, there are a ton of dinosaur books out there and it can get quite frustrating to find those that convey solid information while still having long lasting kid-appeal. I think Dinosaurs Eye To Eye has found a way to bridge the divide between picture book and encyclopedia and because it does that so well, it should have a very long shelf life. Younger kids will love the pictures and older kids will also value the information. That makes this one a relatively inexpensive investment book and honestly has "book you should buy for a present" written all over it. Well done.


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