From School Library Journal
Grade 1-5–This companion to Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs
(Candlewick, 2005) uses equally amazing pop-up illustrations to introduce a fascinating array of ancient sea creatures. From the creepy-crawly invertebrates of the Paleozoic Era to the toothy reptiles of the Mesozoic to the mammoth mammals of the Cenozoic, the enjoyably chatty text offers brief sketches of the changing environment and its inhabitants. The colorful spreads feature large, often breathtaking paper-engineered renderings of prehistoric species, supplemented by smaller, booklike foldouts that provide additional information along with more visual fireworks. Readers will meet a feisty pterygotus (a lobster look-alike that grew to seven feet), an eight-ton sarcosuchus (a crocodilian with a horrendous overbite, and…nearly 100 teeth, some the size of railroad spikes!), and a massive megalodon (a shark ancestor with jaws that could open wide enough to swallow a hippopotamus whole). Spectacular effects include a three-dimensional kronosaurus skeleton with intricately sculpted vertebrae, tinted plastic inserts that evoke murky underwater scenes, and an action-packed, pop-up battle between two long-necked behemoths. There is not much detail here, but the authors do include amusing tidbits about outlandish fossil hunters and references to legendary monsters (Kraken, giant sea snakes, etc). Fun from cover to cover, this attention-grabbing offering will captivate readers, despite its delicate structure and limited shelf life.–Joy Fleishhacker,
School Library Journal
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Gr. 1-3. The focus of this second entry in the Encyclopedia Prehistorica series of pop-up informational books, which began with Dinosaurs
(2005), is not as narrow as the title suggests. An overview of the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic eras starts things off, and the lively facts about high-profile predators (a massive megalodon could "swallow a hippopotamus whole") are interspersed with information about not particularly monstrous creatures and sidebars about paleontological research. The pops, however, are the main event. On one spread, a gape-mouthed shark plunges toward unsuspecting readers; on another, frosted plastic mimics the ocean's surface.
Gatefolds and inset minibooks expand the capacity of the book's seven spreads. Unfortunately, the paper sculptures occasionally obscure the text or catch on the booklets' pages, the artwork often lacks identifying captions, and some of the creatures are introduced without referencing their proper time period. But even if children find the details difficult to synthesize, the sheer wonder generated by the collaborators' dimensional sleight-of-hand will more than justify purchase. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved