Don’t hold this book too close to your face. If you do, when you open up the last page of Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Mega-Beasts a wooly mammoth nose will come within inches of your own!
Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart have gone back in time again. Their third trek into the past brings to life the Mega-Beasts,
which include such creatures as the pteranodon and the quetzalcoatlus. The pteranodon was a flying reptile
with a wing span of 33 feet. Surpassing the pteranodon in size was the quetzalcoatlus. This flying giant was “almost as wide as an eight-seater turboprop jet.”
There were Mega-Beasts in the air, but they were also on land. One of the more than thirty-five impressive pop-ups in this book is of the “Mammal Wannabe” from Africa called cynognathus.
Further into the book, the largest land mammal is shown: indricotherium resembled a hornless rhinoceros. In this book, it appears to be walking across the page. The authors also discuss smaller primitive mammals like the alphadon, and ancestors of the horse called hyracotherium.
“Hulks from Down Under” are showcased in one of the nineteen mini-booklets contained inside this book. Creatures not unlike giant wombats and kangaroos lived during the Cenozoic Era. This is the place where the gentle giant gigantopithecus is discussed, as well as the mysterious Himalayan Mountain Yeti. Some giant mammals were odder than others, and these creatures come to life in pop-up form. “A Gopher with Spikes” and “Furry Turtles” are just two of the ancient creatures depicted on my favorite page. This is where the dodo and the giant ground sloth are also featured.
The focus is on the animals, but fossil hunters and famous naturalists are introduced, too. Cosmo Alessandro Collini is discussed on the first page, and primitive humans are briefly touched on during the last page. Interesting places and time periods are talked about, too. The Ice Age period is showcased on the last page, and the Dragon’s Cave in Europe is described in the Prehistoric Predators mini-book.
This last book in the Prehistorica series has just as much dramatic unfolding as the first book in the series,
Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs. The pop-ups in Mega-Beasts seem to spring to life in all directions, and in the most surprising ways. On one page, smilodon seems to be leaping sideways in mid-air, while mastodon looks as if it’s sinking in the La Brea tar pits. It’s incredible seeing these huge creations pop-up and then fold back into such a limited space.
Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart’s books are exciting and beautiful. The pop-ups are constructed with sturdy papers in blues, greens, yellows, reds, and browns. The creatures look textured;
a June 2007 interview with Michelle Jones from the website Bookpage.com, they say, "We can use sponges for scales, or use combs and run it down the paint to make feathers.” In this same interview, they briefly discuss their research techniques, but unfortunately, no bibliography is included in Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Mega-Beasts.
Robert Sabuda is known for his pop-up books, but he’s also written and illustrated children’s picture books. Titles include Uh-Oh Leonardo and The Blizzard’s Robe. He remembers making little books as a boy and helping the teachers with their bulletin boards at school. The first pop-up book he ever owned was called
The Adventures of Super Pickle (I’d love to see that).
On his website, he shares with readers several easy-to-follow pop-ups lessons. Matthew Reinhart is the creator of the
Pop-up Book of Phobias, his first solo pop-up book. Books created in collaboration with Robert Sabuda include
Castle: Medieval Days and Knights, Cinderella, and
Mega-Beasts is a paper-folding achievement. When you hold it, the book feels like a luxury in your hands.