on January 28, 2011
This book was an awesome purchase for my 5 year old. He has practically memorized it in it's entirety. The only downside is that the binding is poor quality. When I first opened the cover, the binding tore. Same thing with the back cover, too. I didn't want to have to send it back because he was so excited that it had finally arrived, that I taped it on both the front and back covers with wide shipping tape. Unfortunately, that doesn't do much for the pages in between. If not for the fact that it fell apart within days, the contents are very thorough and detailed enough to keep my very rambunctious dinosaur enthusiast busy for hours on end. He can read a little bit, but has memorized it from our daily narratives. Best dino book I've found. Too bad the binding leaves much to be desired.
on June 10, 2013
I bought this National Geographic Kids Ultimate Dinopedia based on all of the positive reviews for my 3.5 year old dinosaur obsessed son. My son loves to look at the profiles of dinosaurs and memorize their names, and characteristics (i.e., what they eat, where they lived, etc). So, I perused amazon for a dinosaur encyclopedia to help my son memorize different dinosaurs, which he loves to do.
Before purchasing this book, I checked out some of the sample pages of this Dinopedia and I was impressed by the information provided on the pages and the artwork. The few pages I checked out had full profiles of the dinosaurs that they discussed. However, when we started reading the book my son became very frustrated because many of the dinosaurs profiled only have artistic pictures of their heads or parts of their bodies. (See, for example, Tsintaosaurus page 175, Plateosaurus page 181, Muttaburrasaurus page 163, Heterodontosaurus page 157 and the list goes on and on). For us, this makes this book largely ineffective for helping my son identify dinosaur names by sight. This is because many dinosaurs look similar and it is only by seeing a full body profile of each dinosaur that my son can distinguish between many dinosaurs that have similar bodies or features. I should mention though, that on the opposing page of the in-color artistic image of each dino in this Dinopedia there is a small, thumb size, all black, side profile of each dino. However, I don't think a tiny, all blacked out profile of the dinosaurs in this book really helps much with dinosaur identification.
We also own a different and much smaller book of dinosaurs that illustrates the full bodies of the dinosaurs and my son has almost all of the dinos in that book memorized based on the pictures in the book. However, in this Dinopedia, my son will not recognize some of the dinosaurs that he knows well because the artwork on the profile of the dinosaur just shows the dinosaur's head, without its body. So, it has disappointed me to see him become visibly frustrated while trying to identify the dinosaurs in this book by head or partial body picture of each dino.
That said, if seeing an in-color, detailed profile of each dino is not important to you, then this is a pretty cool book. It is thick (272 pages). It has a lot of cool information about each dinosaur. The artwork is also very well done and it shows the dinos doing different things (like eating, walking in herds etc).
However, if you or your child would like clear, detailed pictures of each dinosaur for purposes of learning dinosaur identification then I suggest a different dinosaur encyclopedia. At the moment, I google a detailed picture of each dinosaur that my son can look at online as we read each dinosaur profile in this Dinopedia. Having to google pictures of the dinos profiled in this book kind of defeats the purpose of having a dinosaur encyclopedia, but it is a work around that has helped us still manage to enjoy this book.
on March 29, 2011
We gave this to our five year old grandson for Christmas, as he is now into dinos. He loves it. This is the best book of its kind we have come across. It is very nicely illustrated and has a wealth of information about many different species, their habitats, etc. I enjoyed reading it myself.
A note about Amazon: I have been a regular customer for several years, and have never received an item damaged in shipment, until now. We received this package about ten days before Christmas, but the entire package was completely saturated. We think it sat outside at the post office in a driving rain before being delivered. Amazon's customer service was fantastic. They immediately sent another book to us that arrived a few days later, still plenty of time before Christmas. THANK YOU.
on April 20, 2014
Short version: If you want the best encyclopedic dino book for casual readers, get Holtz's "Dinosaurs".* Despite its title, Lessem's "The Ultimate Dinopedia: The Most Complete Dinosaur Reference Ever" (I.e. Dinopedia) is a mixed bag at best & a complete failure at worst.
Long version: Read on.
You could say Don Lessem is the Don Bluth of dinos: Bluth's pre-1990 work is mostly good, while his post-1990 work is mostly not-so-good; The same goes for Lessem's pre- & post-2000 work, respectively. In my previous review, I referred to "Dinosaur Worlds" as 1 of Lessem's best/most underrated books. This review is about Dinopedia, 1 of Lessem's worst/most overrated books: Overrated because it's more popular than it should be; Worst because of the reasons listed below.
1) Dinopedia is a mixed bag in terms of paleoart. In fact, it reminds me of Long's "Feathered Dinosaurs" (Quoting Miller: "I bought the book expecting a more technical discussion of the animals discussed therein...but was surprised to find beautiful paintings of questionably-restored dinosaurs"), but less beautiful & more questionable. For instance, the dromaeosaurs (I.e. My favorite dinos) range from being completely feathered (Microraptor) to lacking primaries (Buitreraptor) to lacking wing feathers altogether (Velociraptor & Deinonychus) to being completely naked (Utahraptor). I could list the other things wrong with Dinopedia's paleoart, but this review is running long. Instead, I'll refer you to Vincent's "Ten Commandments for Dinosaur Collectibles" (Google "Ten Commandments for Dinosaur Collectibles", which sums up everything wrong with said paleoart).
2) Dinopedia is a confusing mess in terms of organization: The 1st section (I.e. "DISCOVERING DINOSAURS") is a mess because it's scattered all over with no apparent rhyme or reason (E.g. "Dinosaur Worlds", "Dinosaur Habitats", & "Other Animals From Dinosaur Time" should be together, but are at opposite ends of said section); The 2nd & 3rd sections (I.e. "THE MEAT EATERS" & "THE PLANT EATERS", respectively) are confusing because each begins with a seemingly-contradictory version of the "Dinosaur Family Tree" on pages 22-23 (1 with only non-therizinosaur theropods & 1 with all dinos except non-therizinosaur theropods, respectively) & no explanation of why. I'm not saying that there's 1 right way to organize a dino book. However, there should be logical transitions between the chapters & the chapters should flow into each other.
3) Dinopedia is a confusing mess in terms of taxonomy. In fact, it reminds me of GSPaul's "The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs" (Quoting Switek: "In many cases Paul lumps several species or genera of dinosaurs into one genus, although the criteria do not appear to be consistent. For example, Paul lumps the significantly different horned dinosaurs Styracosaurus and Pachyrhinosaurus into the genus Centrosaurus, while...as an extension of one of his own recent papers...he splits minutely different dinosaurs previous grouped under Iguanodon into separate genera such as Dollodon and Mantellisaurus"), but with more lumping & less splitting. For instance, the dromaeosaur family (I.e. My favorite dino family) is used to encompass every coelurosaur that isn't a tyrannosaur, an ornithomimosaur, a therizinosaur, or a bird as well as some non-coelurosaurs (E.g. The carnosaur Xuanhanosaurus, the chimeric archosaur "Protoavis", & the ankylosaur Struthiosaurus). Again, I could list the other things wrong with Dinopedia's taxonomy, but this review is running long. Instead, I'll point you to SpongeBobFossilPants' "Dinosaur Taxonomy From A 2010 Kids' Encyclopedia" (which sums up everything wrong with said taxonomy: [link in the 1st comment] ).
4) Dinopedia is a complete failure in terms of completeness, especially when compared to Holtz's "Dinosaurs":
-It's claimed that Dinopedia is "the most complete dinosaur reference ever". However, while Holtz keeps updates on "Supplementary Information for Holtz's Dinosaurs" when parts of his book become outdated, Lessem does no such thing for his book. Therefore, Dinopedia will never be as complete as Holtz's "Dinosaurs". Even if you compare said books at the time of publication, Dinopedia still fails in the following ways.
-It's claimed that "the incredible Dino Dictionary lists almost every dinosaur [genus] ever known". However, I only counted 683 dino genera (2 Mesozoic birds & 681 non-bird dinos) in Dinopedia. Compare that to the 801 dino genera (108 Mesozoic birds & 693 non-bird dinos) in Holtz's "Dinosaurs". Last I checked, "almost every" = at least 95%, not ~85%.
-It's claimed that "the most current research and thinking is all here". However, Dinopedia fails to cover many dino-related subjects (E.g. "Rocks and Environment", "Bringing Dinosaurs to Life: The Science of Dinosaur Art", "Taxonomy: Why Do Dinosaurs Have Such Strange Names?", & "Evolution: Descent with Modification") & those that are covered are done so in an insufficient manner: Sometimes, it simplifies things to the point of being meaningless; This happens mostly in the main text, but also in the sidebar text (E.g. See the Lessem quote; Notice that it fails to mention either Sinosauropteryx, the 1st non-bird dino to be found with evidence of color, or melanosomes, the evidence of color); Other times, it's just plain wrong;** This happens mostly in the sidebar text, but also in the main text (E.g. On page 20, not only does it wrongly claim that "the first animals came up on land when the age of the Earth reaches as high as your chin [300 MYA]", but in doing so contradicts the sidebar text on the same page).
*Don't take my word for it, though. Google "Supplementary Information for Holtz's Dinosaurs" & read the reviews for yourself.
**On average, there are 1 or 2 factual errors per page in Dinopedia, a 272 page book; Compare that to the 1 or 2 factual errors in the entirety of Holtz's "Dinosaurs", a 432 page book.
Quoting Lessem: "Fossils generally give no information about the outer appearance of animals. So until very recently, scientists had no idea what color dinosaurs might have been. But a fossil of Anchiornis (p. 216), a newly discovered chicken-sized meat eater from China, contained a surprise. Anchiornis's fossils were very well preserved, so its feathers survived. They showed black and white wings and a reddish head. Many feathers were studied to reveal the animal's color pattern. The picture to the left shows what this meat eater might have looked like."
on February 24, 2016
My 8 year old son is a lover of all things dinosaur, but he is very picky about his dinosaur books. When he finds a dinosaur book he likes, he reads it over and over. He has come across a few books that have frustrated him if they have inaccuracies within a text, or the illustrations contradict the text of the book. So I was worried about ordering this book online without being able to preview it myself. This book is a hit with my son! He reads it every night before bed. The illustrations are colorful and the text is organized and not too busy. Each dinosaur name includes a pronunciation guide which we all appreciate. This book is a Guided Reading Level S, which is a little challenging for my son despite his high reading skills. However, he enjoys reading the captions and side notes himself. Sometimes he will attempt to read the main text himself, or we will read it together. I would highly recommend this book for all kids who love dinosaurs.