________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 9. . . .November 4, 2016


Elliott’s Guide to Dinosaurs.

Elliott Seah.
Vancouver, BC: Greystone Books, 2016.
48 pp., hardcover & Ebook, $19.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77164-237-8 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-77164-238-5 (Ebook).

Subject Heading:
Disonaurs-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4



The first dinosaurs lived during the Triassic period, which began 251 million years ago and ended 200 million years ago, when the Jurassic period began. According to paleontologists, dinosaurs appeared only towards the end of the Triassic period. Even though there wasn’t as much variety in the dinosaurs of the Triassic as there was in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, several differences between the species led to a classification according to different criteria such as size, anatomy, locomotion, and diet.


Originating as a class assignment, this guide was written when the author, a student in the gifted program at Marguerite Bourgeois Elementary School in Montreal, was only eight-years-old. Seah’s classes in paleontology, his personal research and his collaboration with graphic artist, Christine Cade, have resulted in this book which focuses on 13 dinosaur species and contains general information about the arrival of dinosaurs on Earth, their diet (indicated by tooth shape), defenses, appearance, reproduction, social groups, method of locomotion, and their eventual extinction. As readers navigate through facts about the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, they will be introduced to terms such as graviportal, cursorial, synapsid and diapsid. Text boxes, accompanied by drawings of each of the 13 specific dinosaur species, list, in point form, where and when the dinosaur lived, its length and weight, diet, method of locomotion and the name of a museum where readers can view an entire skeleton. Distinguishing features are also highlighted, one example of which is the incredible biting power of a tyrannosaurus rex (12,800-40,000 lbs. per square inch) compared to that of a human (a mere 120 lbs. per square inch) and a Nile crocodile (7,700 lbs. per square inch). In addition, there is very brief information about a paleontologist’s tools and the process by which dinosaur bones are extracted from an archaeological dig and transported to the lab for further analysis. This section could have been enhanced, not only with more photographs, but also with more details about what happens once the bones arrive at the lab and how the skeleton is reconstructed.

      Seah usually writes in kid-friendly language, but there are portions of the text which might be difficult for the younger readers in the target audience age range. Some of the organization is questionable as well: the “Did You Know?” and “New Discoveries” pages would probably have worked better had they been at the back of the book rather than at the beginning; and the coloured bars/borders at the sides of the pages, especially the multi-coloured ones, are unnecessary and could have been eliminated without detracting from the book’s organization and visual appeal. Illustrations consist of coloured drawings (some of them more sophisticated than others), photographs and a timeline. A drawing of seahsaurus, a fictional dinosaur named for the author, occasionally appears throughout the text to provide additional explanations.

      Elliott’s Guide to Dinosaurs includes a table of contents, a glossary, and a reference list of books, web sites, documentaries and recommended museums that house dinosaur collections. Though the book is unremarkable with respect to the information contained within its pages (there is nothing new here, and there are better books available on the topic), what is remarkable is that it was written by a young child whose passion for his subject shines through.


Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
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ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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