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Barnum Brown: Dinosaur Hunter Hardcover – October 3, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3–Working for the American Museum of Natural History, Brown became a leading paleontologist during the late 1800s, eventually discovering the first nearly complete Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen. Moving from his childhood through his career, the narrative conveys the excitement of dinosaur discoveries, along with some of the hard work involved. The focus is more on the man's work than on his personality, but readers learn about his preference for dressing stylishly, even in the field, and get a sense of his energy and commitment. Ink, gouache, and acrylic illustrations effectively support the text. Evocative images of dinosaurs in the background complement the sharply drawn foreground figures on several spreads. A couple of these dinosaurs cleverly mirror the posture of Brown at work, and one particularly effective scene shows the paleontologist examining T. Rex fossil teeth while an imagined version of the dinosaur peeks mischievously over his shoulder. An author's note fills in some of the details of the work of Brown and other early dinosaur hunters. More informative than Jane Kurtz's Mister Bones: Dinosaur Hunter (S & S, 2004) and more engaging than Brooke Hartzog's Tyrannosaurus Rex and Barnum Brown (Rosen, 1998), this is a fun picture-book biography of a historical figure with strong child appeal.–Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* When baby Brown was born, his parents wanted to give him an unusual name, so they named him after P. T. Barnum. From a young age, Barnum loved exploring the area around the family farm in Kansas. This part of the country was once an ocean, so there were plenty of fossils to collect, and this satisfying hobby eventually led Barnum to a job at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where he was charged with adding a dinosaur to the museum's collection. The turn of the last century was an exciting time for fossil hunters, and Barnum made some thrilling discoveries, his crowning achievement a Tryannosaurus rex, displayed to gasps when it was unveiled. Although the artwork here is not as stunning as Brian Selznick's in Barbara Kerley's The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins (2001)these pictures have a scope and generosity that capture both the size of the dinosaurs and the vast Badlands where many of their bones were found. Sheldon also adds whimsical touches--in many of the illustrations dinosaurs are in the background, looking over Brown's shoulder as he works. Extended by a substantive author's note, this solid picture-book biography captures both its subject and a time when excitement over dinosaurs was still fresh, and conveys them to today's audience. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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If you're interested in a book review, this is a great book for younger kids interested in the beginnings of Paleontology. If you liked The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins, you'll like Barnum Brown: Dinosaur Hunter. Barnum Brown discovered the first T-Rex fossils, so little dinosaur enthusiasts will be riveted. The illustrations are bright and my 4 year old figured out which parts of the pictures are meant to be Barnum's imagination, so he now likes to point that out. This book references the famous early Cope and Marsh rivalry and Waterhouse Hawkins in the end note, so there is fuel here for further reading.
"Barnum Brown: Dinosaur Hunter"
Written & illustrated by David Sheldon
(Walker Books, 2006)
This is an excellent biographical picturebook about pioneering paleontologist Barnum Brown, who discovered the first Tyrannosaurus Rex fossils while working for the New York Museum of Natural History in the early 1900s. Brown was part of the second major wave of dinosaur discoveries, having grown up thrilling to the discoveries of earlier scientists in the 1880s, but his discovery of the carnivorous T-Rex was one of the field's biggest landmarks, sparking the imagination of kids and adults (and moviemakers, etc) for generations to come. Over the course of several expeditions, Brown discovered two full T-Rex skeletons, one of which has been mounted in the Natural History Museum for the last hundred years...
This book is plainly written and nicely illustrated. It is perhaps better for slightly older readers - maybe 8-10 year olds - there aren't a lot of flashy pictures of T-Rexes, but rather a focus on Brown himself, and his excavations. The dinosaurs exist mostly in his mind's eye, which is nice because this is really a story about science and scientific exploration, and of finding one's calling in life and pursuing it through hard work and inspiration. Fans of the museum itself should enjoy this book as well -- a nice glimpse into its history and the growth of its amazing collections. Recommended! (DJ Joe Sixpack, ReadThatAgain children's book reviews)