________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 16 . . . . April 4, 2008


Breakout Dinosaurs.

Hugh Brewster. Illustrated by Alan Barnard.
Toronto, ON: Whitfield Editions (Distributed by Codasat), 2007.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-0-9781805-0-8.

Subject Heading:
Dinosaurs-Canada-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-6 / Ages 6-11.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4


When we look at dinosaurs in the museum, we imagine them alive. Maybe you'd like to add flesh to their bones and see them roaring – baring their enormous teeth. Perhaps you'd even like to see them break out of their displays and charge through the building! (You know that this couldn't happen, of course, since dinosaurs died out millions of years ago.)

But maybe you didn't know just how many of these amazing creatures once lived right here in Canada. If you walk in some parts of Alberta's Dinosaur Provincial Park, for example, you'll likely be stepping on dino bones and teeth. It is the single richest fossil site in the world - over 500 skeletons of 36 different kinds of dinosaurs have been uncovered there.

If you want to discover dinosaurs, Canada is one of the richest countries in the world in which to look.


Because dinosaurs are one of elementary school students' favourite topics for independent study and recreational reading, it sometimes seems like libraries, both school and public, can't have enough dinosaur titles in stock. Breakout Dinosaurs is a "must" purchase, both because of the quality of its text and illustrations and also because of its Canadian focus.

internal art

     The book's dinosaur content is principally treated via 13 pairs of facing pages with each focusing on one or two dinosaurs whose petrified remains have been found in Canada. The book opens with a map of Canada as it would have appeared some 70 million years ago when two shallow inland seas, the Western and Hudson Seaway, inundated large portions of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Brewster then turns to the dinosaurs, beginning with what he describes as "everybody's favourite scary dino, Tyrannosaurus rex" aka T.Rex, plus the earlier, smaller but equally vicious Albertosaurus. In turn, each of the page pairs that follow continue to highlight dinosaurs though "Sea Monsters Over Manitoba" offers up three huge marine reptiles, like the 4 meter long mosasaur, plus the hesperornis, a seabird that couldn't fly and so spent most of its time floating at sea. The book's dinosaur content concludes with "Wipeout!" 65 million years ago when a "killer asteroid" hit near what is the Yucatan peninsula in present day Mexico.

     Brewster's text is of two types. The factual portion provides the kind of dinosaur details that kids love, and it is presented in a way that the statistics become meaningful.

Diplodocus was longer than two school buses and had a whip-like tail that it could crack like a bullwhip. It walked on four legs the size of tree trunks, and each foot had a sharp thumb claw that may have been used for fighting. Diplodocus babies were hatched from eggs and may have lived as long as 50 years.

Name Means: "Double Beamed" because its spine had double-pronged bones that may have helped keep its long tail off the ground.

Size: 27 m long with an 8 m neck and 14 m tail

Weight: 9-18 tonnes

Time 154-144 million years ago

Diet: Plants

Found: Western North America

     As well, Brewster occasionally creates a "story" connected to Barnard's artwork.


Screams and roars pierced the dusty air as the Stegosaurus swung its heavy tail. The Allosaurus howled as the metre-long spikes from the stegosaur's tail sank into its neck. Two other allosaurs from the pack came to help. They circled around the stegosaur, whose tail spikes had become firmly stuck in the first allosaur's back. One allosaur ripped the stegosaur's belly with its sharp claws while the other tried to bite its head. The stegosaur was no match for the huge predators and soon toppled, bleeding, on its side. Before long, the three allosaurs gorged greedily on their prey.

     The book's contents are illustrated in two ways. Most of the illustrations consist of Barnard's superbly dramatic artwork which occupies a full page or, because of a dinosaur's size, spills over facing pages. As well, the book contains photographs of fossils and dinosaur skeletons, with most of the photos being taken of exhibits in Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum.

     The final three pages of Breakout Dinosaurs contain much useful information, including a visual timeline, a brief glossary, the titles of three kid-friendly books of "Recommended Reading," and an essential "Pronunciation Guide" for the tongue-twisting dinosaur names. Additionally, there is a listing, "Where to see Dinosaurs in Canada," that identifies seven locations in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta where one can see fossils and dinosaur skeletons. This listing also includes the appropriate URLs.

     As previously noted, a must-add book!

Highly Recommended.

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

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.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.