From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3—Patkau introduces a variety of prehistoric animals and their modern-day descendants. The opening comparison between a diplodocus and a skylark covers a full four pages, a nod to the diplodocus's size and scientists' theories about modern birds and their relationship to dinosaurs. The remaining comparisons are in no apparent sequence: mollusks, fish, arachnids, sea jellies, birds, amphibians, mammals, crustaceans, fish, and insects. Each one fills a spread. Three-fourths of each page is a boldly colored computer-generated illustration of the two animals in their respective habitats. A diagonal formed by the contrasting backgrounds is the only separation. Written in first person, the one-paragraph descriptions can include physical characteristics, habitat information, and diet. Maps on the endpapers show where all of the animals were or are found. The chronology, beginning with today and going back to Precambrian times, puts these creatures in perspective, although young readers may need some help interpreting the information. There is no diagram showing the evolutionary sequence from invertebrates to vertebrates. The colorful presentation will make this an enjoyable browsing book for larger collections.—Carol S. Surges, McKinley Elementary School, Wauwatosa, WI
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On the first page of this oversize book a huge diplodocus speaks: “I was a giant plant-eating dinosaur with a big heart and a tiny brain.” Turn the page, and his descendant, a little skylark high in a tree, speaks: “Like a therapod of long ago, I have a wishbone, scaly feet and hard-shelled eggs.” Then there are the mollusks: the giant cameroceran in prehistoric times and its modern-day descendant, a blue-ringed octopus. With large computer-created graphics in dramatic colors and a few lines of text, each double-page spread makes a similar connection for reptiles, fish, arachnids, birds, amphibians, mammals, crustaceans, and insects. The first-person voices are a bit cute, but the amazing science will engage dinosaur fans with the wonder of evolution and the evidence of fossils. A time chart and a world map showing the distribution of the prehistoric creatures and fossils wrap up the text, which will be wonderful for beginning classroom science discussions. Grades 2-4. --Hazel Rochman