Encyclopedia Prehistorica : Dinosaurs

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Encyclopedia Prehistorica : Dinosaurs Book Poster Image
Dinosaur pop-up essential for young dino lovers.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness

Carnivores and raptors are shown fighting and eating dead prey, including one pop-up where an allosaurus pulls a strip of flesh out of a dead dino as you open the page.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book is both too delicate, and possibly too scary (on one page the jaws of a T-rex come out at the reader), for young kids. Though thoroughly researched, some of the information presented verbally and pictorially is controversial, though the author is usually careful to indicate this.

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What's the story?

In six double-page spreads, and numerous sidebars, the authors present information about dinosaurs in text and pop-up illustrations. Each spread deals with a category of dinosaurs: Raptors, Long-necked Giants, Frill-heads, etc. Each spread includes a large, central pop-up, and from two to four mini-books, each with their own smaller pops, some with several pages of them, and one with its own sidebar mini-books with even smaller pops. These sidebars each relate to the central theme of the page, adding details about specific species and scientific theories.

Is it any good?

It's hard to imagine any dinosaur-loving kid not wanting this book. Robert Sabuda is the reigning king of pop-ups, and this book amply shows why with a profusion of intricate marvels of paper engineering. Each pop-up illustrates the latest thinking about the species depicted, some so cutting-edge (such as the coloring) that they may be controversial. A T-rex appears to lunge out to bite the reader, while an archaeopteryx unfolds its wings and appears ready to fly away, an allosaurus pulls strips of meat from its prey, and an ankylosaurus bops you with its armored tail.

The author employs humorous titles and clear text that uses accessible comparisons (such as to cars, school buses, and cafeteria trays) to convey a lot of information in a short space, and includes pronunciations. Both the language and the delicacy of the pops make it more appropriate for older readers, though little ones will have trouble keeping their hands off it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the science behind this book, the sleuthing and inferences made by paleontologists. How did they figure out what the dinosaurs looked like and ate? What has caused their ideas to change? Families can do further research together on the types of dinosaurs presented, or find out about other species.

Book details

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