Children's books and book reviews - reading resource for kids, teachers, librarians, parents

*Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs: The Definitive Pop-Up* by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
Also by Robert Sabuda:

Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Mega-Beasts

Peter Pan: A Classic Collectible Pop-Up

Also by Matthew Reinhart:

Rumble! Roar! Dinosaurs!: A Prehistoric Pop-Up

Puppies, Kittens, and Other Pop-up Pets

Rescue: Pop-Up Emergency Vehicles

Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Mega-Beasts
Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs: The Definitive Pop-Up
by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
Ages 5-12 12 pages Candlewick July 2005 Hardcover    

Give this book to anyone and ask them to open it. Guaranteed they will let out some sort of exclamation!

Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs is a paper engineering feat. With a turn of the page, the dinosaurs rise up from their paper landscapes. Their hugeness and wildness unfold right before your eyes. Mini-booklets on each page open to reveal smaller yet equally spectacular pop-ups. All the dinosaurs in this book seem to perform for you: as the pages open, their heads move up and down, their jaws open and close, their arms stretch wider and wider, and, sometimes, their tails swish.

It’s hard to believe what you’re seeing inside this book. I stared at first, then I found myself peeking inside as I was closing the book. As the dinosaur shapes were folding back onto the pages I was thinking, how is this happening; how did he do that?

Six large dinosaur pop-ups are featured in this book along with nineteen mini-booklets. These booklets contain supplementary information and additional dinosaur pop-ups. The bigger pop-ups feature the more recognizable dinosaurs like triceratops and T-rex. Information about the more obscure dinosaurs is in the mini-booklets that border the six two-page spreads.

The cover of Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs looks like dinosaur skin. The old, bulky design of this book reflects the history inside. The first page contains general introductory information about dinosaurs. The two dinosaur groups are explained and then depicted in pop-ups. Accompanying the paleontology definition are two pop-ups of famous men in the field. The cleverest part of this first page is the booklet that unfolds to describe three periods of the dinosaur age: the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous. Pop-up dinosaurs can be seen in surroundings that match the environment of that time period. For example, the Triassic Period was warm and dry, and eoraptor is shown standing in a sandy, rocky terrain. The Cretaceous Period was when volcanoes were active. and the world was a flowery, grassy place. Appearing in front of an exploding pop-up volcano are pentaceratops and carnotaurus, standing in an area full of grasses and colorful shrubs.

Michelle Jones from BookPage interviewed the creators of Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs. She states “Each Prehistorica book begins with Reinhart diving into research, consulting books, museums and the Internet.” Indeed, the facts are here, but so is the humor. For example, two of the lesser-known dinosaurs are introduced with nicknames. Euoplocephalus is “No Goggles Needed Euoplocephalus,” and maiasaura is "Mommysaurus". The humor emerges in the stories, too. Dr. Gideon Mantell’s dinosaur assembly mistake story is inside, as is the story about the dinner party that was hosted inside a dinosaur model.

Factual material is described in a way children can understand. Sizes are equated with objects children are familiar with. The plates of a stegosaurus are “bigger than cafeteria trays.” Ankylosaurus is “car-size,” and diplodocus is “as long as two school buses parked end to end.” Pronunciation guides are provided, but I think that’s more for the adults than for the children (in my experience, children seem to know the dinosaur names better than we do).

The dinosaurs are colored in shades of reds and browns, blues and purples, yellows and greens, making them even more dramatic. The pages are lightly colored and appear stained with age. Pale peaches and browns in the foreground contrast nicely with the bold, bright dinosaur colors. Dinosaur names are bolded, as are headings and titles. If children are shown the proper way to handle this book, it will last a long time. The papers are thick and sturdy, and there are no pull tabs, wheels or tiny parts that could easily go missing.

This is a well-organized, easy-to-read introduction to dinosaurs. Their appearance and quirks are highlighted, as is their mysterious ending and legacy. Nothing comes between the reader and their enjoyment of this book. The only way it could have been better is if there were a bibliography or reference note at the end.

Robert Sabuda is a self taught pop-up artist. His early jobs included package designer and coloring book illustrator. A graduate from the Pratt Institute, he now lives in New York City with his partner, Matthew Reinhart. Robert’s other pop-up books include Jungle Book, Mommy?, and Winter’s Tale. Born in Iowa, Matthew Reinhart built up an art portfolio while studying biology in college. Not happy with this field of study, he later enrolled in Pratt Institute for industrial design. Besides working on the Encyclopedia Prehistorica series with Sabuda, he created The Pop-up Book of Phobias. His upcoming projects include No Biting Louise! and the Ultimate Pop-up Guide to Star Wars Universe.

Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart have created a compact and fun dinosaur book; I see it as an “animated dinosaur book to go.” When they work with paper, the results are amazing. This book, along with the two other book in the series (Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters and Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Mega-Beasts) will be an easy sell - just open the book to any page. Libraries and stores should reserve space for this book.

click here to browse children's board book reviews
click here to browse children's picture book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young adult book reviews
click here to browse parenting book reviews
web reviews
  Tanya Boudreau/2007 for curled up with a good kid's book  

For grown-up fiction, nonfiction and speculative fiction book reviews,
visit our sister site Curled Up With a Good Book (