________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 22 . . . . June 27, 2008


Dino-Why? The Dinosaur Question & Answer Book.

Sylvia Funston.
Toronto, ON: Maple Tree Press, 2008.
64 pp., pbk. & hc., $12.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-897349-25-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-897349-24-3 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Dinosaurs-Miscellanea-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-8 / Ages 8-13.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

***½ /4



A Tyrannosaurus rex was dug out of a rockface in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, with jackhammers, and dynamite might be the only solution for removing tons of extra-hard overlying rock. But there are other, less noisy ways of getting dinosaur bones out of rock. If you're fortunate enough to find small fossils in limestone, you can usually chisel out a chunk of fossil-bearing rock then soak it in a weak acid bath in the laboratory. The acid eats away the limestone, leaving behind the fossils.


Dino-Why? is an updated and revised version of The Dinosaur Question and Answer Book which appeared in 1992. As the title suggests, instead of just presenting information about dinosaurs, Funston takes the approach of asking questions, the kinds that kids would likely ask, and then she provides succinct answers. The one to three questions per page range in content from the obvious, like "Which was the smallest dinosaur?" or "How big was T-rex?" to the more obscure, such as "Which dinosaur would make the best pet?" (Check your local pet store for a Troodon, a small carnivore) or "If I stepped on a dinosaur's tail, how quickly would it react?" (Interestingly, if you had stepped on the tail of a 32 m long Seismosaurus, 64 seconds would elapse before its brain finally registered that fact.) Funston also drops in additional snippets of dinosaur-related information via yellow-backed text "boxes." Consequently, readers can learn that "If your weight increased between birth and adulthood at the same rate as a duckbilled dinosaur's did, you'd weigh as much as four inner-city buses!" or "A 'dinosaur highway' containing more than a million footprints of plant-eating dinosaurs was discovered running north-south along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains." Because weight and height are significant factors in any dinosaur study, all measurements are provided in both metric and imperial units,. To make the statistics regarding dinosaurs' sizes more understandable, Funston frequently utilizes comparisons, such as "T-rex was so heavy that if it climbed on one side of a seesaw, you'd have to balance the other side with 86 full-grown men" or "The largest dinosaur footprint ever found belongs to a Chinese sauropod. At 1.5 m (5 ft.) long and 1.3 m (4 ft. 3 in.) wide, it's about the size of a child's wading pool." To add variety to her text, plus provide more reader involvement, Funston inserts four quizzes which, for example, ask readers in "What would you take on a dinosaur hunt?" to match 10 descriptions of paleontologists' tools with their photographs, or in "How can you tell meat-eaters' and plant-eaters' footprints apart?" to identify which dinosaur made which footprint. An answer key is provided on the book's final page. Other closing materials include a glossary which will allow readers to understand the meaning of dinosaurs' Greek or Latin names by breaking their scientific names into their parts. Additionally, a dictionary of 14 dinosaur terms and an index complete the book.

     In any dinosaur book, illustrations are most important, and Dino-Why? does not disappoint in the least. The book's glossy pages are chockablock with captioned coloured photos, paintings and other artistic renderings as well as cartoons, with some of the illustrations taking up full pages.

     A must-have additional to school and public libraries dinosaur book shelves!

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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