February 23, 2006

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Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs! by Kathleen V. Kudlinski, illustrated by S. D. Schindler (Dutton Children’s Books, 2005, 30ish pages)

The ancient Chinese thought dinosaur bones were dragon fossils.

Scientists once mistook Iguanodon’s hand bone for a nose spike bone.

We used to think dinosaurs dragged their tails in the dirt, because what else could they do? Then we discovered evidence of some tendons that allow for tail erections.

We assumed dinosaurs were cold-blooded, but now we think they were somewhere between cold- and warm-blooded, a special category.

And now we know that some dinosaurs had feathers, and some dinosaurs were little, and they might have had color vision, and they were not just like lizards.

I like this book, which explains all these points and more, because it has catchy pictures (color cartoons) and a just-right ratio of words to pictures. I like it because it’s engaging without ever being goofy – no forced wackiness, no desperate antics predicated on the assumption that kids will only read nonfiction if you bribe them or stoop to idiocy.

Mostly I like it because it conveys that learning is the process of asking questions and nosing around, without end, for grownups and kids alike. A

—Lisa Parsons

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