________________ CM . . . .Volume V Number 16 . . . . April 9, 1999

cover Graveyards of the Dinosaurs: What It's Like to Discover Prehistoric Creatures. (I Was There Series).

Shelley Tanaka. Illustrated by Alan Barnard, Mark Hallett & John Sibbick.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1998.
48 pp., cloth, $19.99.
ISBN: 0-590-12446-3.

Subject Headings:
Dinosaurs-Juvenile literature.
Paleontology-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.
Review by Val Nielsen.

**** /4

Shelley Tanaka's fourth title in her "I Was There Series," Graveyards of the Dinosaurs, deals with the enduring mystery of the disappearance of the giant reptiles who ruled our planet 70 million years ago. Previous books in this successful series are On Board the Titanic (Winner of the 1997 Silver Birch Award and the 1998 Information Book Award), The Buried City of Pompeii, and Discovering the Iceman, 1997 winner of the eighth annual Mr. Christie Book Award. inside picture

      Tanaka begins her book by way of a prologue which tells the story of Roy Chapman Andrews, an intrepid American paleontologist who, in 1922, led the largest land expedition ever launched into the Gobi desert. Andrews was searching for ancient human and animal remains; however, what he discovered instead was the richest dinosaur graveyard in the world. He and his team returned to America with skeletons, skulls, and the first dinosaur eggs known to science, discoveries which soon changed the way the world looked at the giant reptiles.

      Using a technique of flashbacks, Tanaka weaves the stories of three dinosaurs Oviraptor, Centrosaurus and Herrerasaurus into her text, each story suggesting a reason for the giant reptile's extirpation. Vivid and accurate full-colour illustrations of the dinosaurs and their lush environment, created by Alan Barnard, Mark Hallett, John Sibbick and Michael Skrepnick, are complemented with charts, maps, diagrams and photographs of scientists at work. As usual, Tanaka intersperses her text with fascinating tidbits of related information, all clearly and succinctly captioned and carefully chosen to capture the young reader's attention. Tanaka has included a glossary, a time line, and a double page map featuring dinosaur finds made around the world during the last decade, features which will be enormously helpful to young readers.

      With Philip Currie of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology as her paleontological consultant, as well as the help of Mark Norell and Paul Sereno of the American Museum of Natural History, Tanaka has ensured the accuracy of all information contained in Graveyards of the Dinosaurs. There are no definite answers to the riddle of how the dinosaurs disappeared, but Tanaka concludes her book with an epilogue giving some of the explanations that scientists hold today. She ends by suggesting that we humans may have something to learn from these huge monsters who "..thundered over the land preying on each other and eating monstrous amounts of vegetation, yet somehow left the earth intact for 165 million years."

      Although the reading level of Graveyards of the Dinosaurs is around Grade 5, given the high level of interest in dinosaurs that children in primary grades have, plus the exceptional visual attractiveness of the volume, teachers and librarians may be sure that it will be popular in the elementary grades. It is a perfect book for middle years students interested in paleontology and curious about one of the world's great unsolved mysteries.

Highly Recommended.

Valerie Nielsen is a recently retired teacher-librarian who lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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