________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 12 . . . . February 4, 2000

cover Dinosaur: Digging Up a Giant.

Chris McGowan. Illustrated by Ron Broda.
Markham, ON: Northwinds Press/Scholastic Canada Ltd., 1999.
29 pp., cloth, $18.99.
ISBN 0-590-51509-8.

Subject Heading:
Dinosaurs-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.
Review by Gail Hamilton.

**** /4


The bones are wrapped in layers of cloth dipped in wet plaster and allowed to set, like a cast for a broken leg. To make these field jackets is a lot of work.
A trench is chiselled out around a group of bones. The bones are covered with tissue paper, then strips of burlap soaked in plaster of Paris are spread over them, in layers. When the plaster on top sets, the block is flipped over and plastered on the other side.
When the plaster is dry the field jacket is labelled using a felt-tipped marker. This shows which skeleton it is, and where the block fits in with all the others.
image From the moment they open the cover of Dinosaur: Digging Up a Giant, readers will be drawn in by the colourful, realistic illustrations that just beg one to reach out and touch. Even the end papers hint of what is to come - a rough, green reptilian skin is pulled back to reveal a huge dinosaur bone beneath. Readers can almost feel the difference in texture between the leathery pebbled skin, the smooth hard leg bone and the grainy sand of the Alberta badlands.

Readers are taken through the process of piecing together a dinosaur skeleton. Using simple language, McGowan explains each step, from unearthing the first bone to the detailed documentation and preservation of the find, both on site and back at the museum, by a team of paleontologists. As each bit of the dinosaur is slowly revealed, the team looks for clues, such as the size and shape of the bone, in order to identify the type of dinosaur. Once all of the bones have been marked and photographed, skilled technicians reconstruct the entire skeleton for a gallery display.

McGowan shares interesting facts about a number of dinosaurs as he takes the paleontologists through the investigative process. A participant in several digs worldwide and the Senior Curator of the Royal Ontario Museum's Department of Palaeobiology, McGowan brings a wealth of knowledge to the topic. He is very successful at simplifying the information presented in the book so that youngsters will understand its basic concepts. The last page gives the answers to four frequently asked questions about dinosaurs and includes a pronunciation guide.

Broda's fabulous illustrations enhance the text and almost steal the show. Made with paper sculpture and watercolour, they have been carefully lit and photographed to produce a realistic, three-dimensional quality. All of them are double-page spreads, many of them rendered from different vantage points for visual interest.

Highly Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.

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