Posted in Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Dinosaurs books for the arts and sciences!

The 50 State Fossils: A Guidebook for Aspiring Paleontologists, by Yinan Wang/Illustrations by Jane Levy, (Sept. 2018, Schiffer Publishing), $18.99, ISBN: 9780764355578

Ages 7-12

You know that states have their own flags. You probably even knew that states have their own trees, foods, and animals, but did you know that most states have their own fossils? It’s true! 50 State Fossils give readers a state-by-state look at each one. Maryland’s state fossil, for instance, is a Sea Snail, while Michigan’s is a Mastodon – a mammal similar to elephants and mammoths. Some state fossils are plants: Oregon’s is a Dawn Redwood, while North Dakota’s is Shipworm-Bored Petrified Wood. Each entry includes a photo and illustration of the fossil (or proposed fossil, for those states that don’t have a state fossil); a state map with a designated area where fossils can be found in that state; and a brief notation on the fossil: when the fossil dates from, when it was designated a state fossil, scientific names, and a paragraph or two about the fossil.

The State Fossils are the meat of the book, but this slim volume is packed with information for budding paleontologists: there are sections on how fossils form, how a state fossil is designated, dating fossils and the geologic time scale, and taxonomic rank.  There’s a glossary, a state-by-state breakdown of where to see fossils, and further reading. Endpapers are a colorful mix of various flora and fauna that can be found in the book.

50 State Fossils is one of those books a kid will carry to the museum to refer to while wandering through exhibits (I know I used to) and makes for a great book to give dino fans. It’s a nice add to nonfiction collections and a good gift idea.


If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur, by Amy Newbold/Illustrated by Greg Newbold, (Oct. 2018, Tilbury House), $17.95, ISBN: 9780884486671

Ages 4-8

This follow up to 2017’s If Picasso Painted a Snowman is an enjoyable look at dinosaurs and art history. The hamster guide is back, escorting readers through an art gallery of different artists’ takes on dinosaurs, from a da Vinci-esque Virtruvian Dino, through Katusushika Hokusai’s giant wave (with dinosaurs wave surfing), and itty bitty dinosaurs hiding in Diego Rivera’s lilies. Who would da Vinci really paint, though, if he were painting dinosaurs? Why, Dino Lisa, of course! Readers are encouraged to copy a page sporting a blank easel and make their own dinosaur artwork, and featured artists get capsule biographies at the end, along with the dinosaur species designated to their paintings. A word from artist Greg Newbold encourages readers to draw, explore, and have fun on their own artist journeys. Endpapers inspired by Henri Matisse’s paper cutouts lead the reader in and usher them out, hopefully with a head full of ideas.

This book is just too much fun! It’s a great way to introduce art and science to kids, and begs for a program where kids can learn about artists and create their own dinosaurs. I’d have used this in my art storytime, for sure. (So maybe I need to dust that storytime off and revisit it.) Booktalk and feature in an art storytime with Lucy Volpin’s Crocdali; David Wiesner’s Art & Max; My Museum by Joanne Liu, and Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter. This one’s an absolute add to collections.

Posted in Graphic Novels, Humor, Intermediate, Tween Reads

Prehistory just got a lot more fun: Meet Lucy & Andy Neanderthal

lucy and andyLucy & Andy Neanderthal, by Jeffrey Brown (Aug. 2016, Crown Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9780385388351

Recommended for ages 8-12

Jedi Academy’s writer and artist Jeffrey Brown goes prehistoric in his latest graphic novel, starring two cave siblings, their family, and members of their group, living about 40,000 years ago. Joined by two paleontologists who show up to inform and dispel myths and misconceptions about Neanderthals, Lucy & Andy Neanderthal is a fun story that manages to inform and educate while giving readers a good laugh.

Lucy and Andy have to put up with Margaret and Phil, two teens from their group that either boss them around or ignore them completely; they chase around their baby brother, who tends to run off, make some cave paintings, and watch a mammoth hunt that leaves Andy considering vegetarianism. The group also discovers that they’re not alone: what happens when Neanderthals meet humans?

Join this new modern stone age family on their first (hopefully, of many) adventures. Booktalk this one with Jeffrey Brown’s Jedi Academy books – just tell them that Lucy and Andy lived long, long, ago, in a galaxy not so far away. And then, if you really want to blow their minds, show them an episode of The Flintstones.

Kids love good graphic novels, and kids love prehistory. Lucy & Andy Neanderthal is both.

Posted in Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

First Second brings you Science Comics!

First Second’s got a line of Science Comics coming to stores beginning in May with the releases of Coral Reefs and Dinosaurs. The books are beautifully illustrated and bring nonfiction to the next level with information, wit, and fun for readers.

coral reefsCoral Reefs, by Maris Wicks ($9.99, ISBN: 9781626721456) introduces readers to the world of coral reefs! With an adorable fish acting as emcee and guide, readers get a look at the biology of coral, the different types of reefs, sea creatures that live in and around the reefs, and the ecological importance that the reefs play in our world. Maris Wicks, who also gave us the brilliant and informative Human Body Theater last year, is back with her combination of smart and funny writing and eye-catching, bright art.

The science is solid and there are tons of take-away facts for kids and adults alike. Did you know that some reefs take millions of years to grow?  That coral reefs are home to a quarter of all the animals found in the ocean? Wicks also discusses climate change and its impact on the environment, with emphasis ramifications like coral bleaching and ocean acidification. Anyone can help in any way; Wicks provides examples that include reducing carbon emissions (take a walk! carpool! bike ride!); reusing and recycling plastics; composting, and planting trees and flowers. There’s a great message about environmentalism and conservation to be told here, and Wicks ends on an upbeat note: “Caring for ourselves and our environment is the first step to caring for the rest of the world.” With a foreword from Randi Rotjan, Ph.D., Associate Research Scientist with the New England Aquarium, a glossary, bibliography, and additional resources, Science Comics: Coral Reefs is a great companion to any unit on the oceans, sea life, conservation, and ecology. Strongly recommended for public, school and home collections.

Check out Maris Wicks’ website for fiction and nonfiction artwork!


dinosaurs_cScience Comics: Dinosaurs, by award-winning author MK Reed and illustrated by Joe Flood ($9.99, ISBN: 9781626721432) takes an omniscient narrator approach, walking readers through the history of paleontology, including the many rivalries between scientists that led, in some cases, to some major classification errors, like the poor Brontosaurus, a victim of the infamous Bone Wars between paleontologists O.C. Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope, whose bitter rivalry and rush to beat one another to publishing led them to create a dinosaur that didn’t really exist – it was later discovered that an Apatosaurus body had a Camarasaurus head stuck onto the skeleton, in a rush to complete the work.

With a series of repeated timelines that show facts that society “definitely knew” at different times, we see how much we’ve really learned about the true age of the earth, the fossil record, and the origins of dinosaurs themselves. Joe Flood’s art is less cartoony than Maris Wicks, but captures the tremendous scale and brightly colored dinosaurs that we now understand roamed the earth. There are some incredible graphs and charts in here, illustrating common ancestors and evolutions. A foreword by Leonard Finkelman, Ph.D., Associate Professor in Philosophy of Science at Linfield College, plus a glossary, additional charts, and further resources make this a must-have for any dinosaur collection. Buy two – you know kids love their dinosaurs.

So much more than simple graphic novels, Science Comics is a series that deserves a place in any nonfiction section AND any graphic novel section. The next book in the series, Volcanoes, is due out in October. Recommended for ages 8 and up.

MK Reed’s author webpage has more information about the author and her books, including a link to her anthology on women gamers, Chainmail Bikini.

Sneak peek at Coral Reefs:

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Sneak peek at Dinosaurs: