________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 26 . . . . March 12, 2010


Monster Fliers: From the Time of the Dinosaurs.

Elizabeth MacLeod. Illustrated by John Bindon.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2010.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-199-8.

Subject Headings:
Pterosauria-Juvenile literature.
Dinosaurs-Juvenile literature.
Birds, Fossil-Juvenile literature.

Kindergarten-grade 5 / Ages 5-10.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

***½ /4


Imagine a mouth crammed with about a thousand bristlelike teeth. Pterodaustro (Tare-o-Daw-stro) had one of the strangest, longest bills of any pterosaur. When this monster shut its mouth, its long lower teeth stuck out around its bill.

To get its dinner, Pterodaustro stood in the water. It skimmed its bill over the surface like a net. When it raised its head, the water flowed out. Small creatures were trapped in its bill, and Pterodaustro gulped them down. The tiny teeth in its upper jaw helped chop up larger food.


A library's collection of dinosaur books appears to be one section that can never contain enough books to satisfy its readers' voracious appetites, and MacLeod's Monster Fliers: From the Time of the Dinosaurs is a most worthy addition to these well-read shelves. And while the word "dinosaurs" appears in the book's title, your junior know-it-all paleontologists will point out that (as MacLeod acknowledges) "technically" most of the book's monster fliers are actually not dinosaurs but are really pterosaurs (Greek: "winged lizard") or flying reptiles.

     Each of the fliers is treated on a single page or via a double page spread. MacLeod's two to three paragraphs of lively text contain interesting facts about each of the fliers. As shown in the excerpt above, MacLeod does provide a pronunciation guide for the fliers' tongue twister names, but she does not do so for the word pterosaur. Is that "p" silent or not? (It is.). When referring to a flier's size, MacLeod rarely uses actually measurements, preferring instead to use comparisons. Consequently, readers learn that the Anurognathus ( a-NOOR-og-NATH-us), one of the smallest pterosaurs, had a body "about the size of a softball" while the biggest flier ever, the Quetzalcoatlus (KWET-zal-KWAT-luss), "had the wingspan of a small airplane."

internal art

     And while MacLeod's text is interesting and informative, there is no doubt that it will be Bindon's dramatic illustrations of these fliers that will initially draw readers to Monster Fliers. As Bindon reveals, these 13 pterosaurs, five birds and one dinosaur were truly the stuff of nightmares and horror movies. Fortunately, for us, they all lived between 220 million and five million years ago.

     The closing pair of facing pages contains a "scale diagram show[ing] how big the fliers in this book are compared to one another - and to the kids shown here."; Unfortunately, because the silhouette of the two young children does not provide their heights, the value of the comparison is somewhat reduced. Instead of arranging the fliers' silhouettes in the same order as they appeared in the book, they are arranged more or less chronologically in terms of when they lived. Adding page references would have assisted readers in their turning back and forth between the scale diagram pages and the page(s) where the flier was fully treated.

     Without a doubt, Monster Fliers: From the Time of the Dinosaurs will be a most popular addition to school, public and home libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Though sometimes considered a dinosaur, Dave Jenkinson, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is actually CM's editor.

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

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