While allowing that fossils have plenty to tell us about what dinosaurs were like, Hort notes that there are still plenty of unanswered questions—from what they ate and how those massive but tiny-headed plant eaters managed to down enough chow to maintain their weight to what all the spines and spinal plates were for. Echoing the author’s breezy tone, O’Brien casts Triceratops sending each other love notes with their neck frills, Maiasaurs with a stroller full of unhatched offspring, a Tyrannosaur in a restaurant downing both entrees (i.e., dead food) and waiters (live), and the like. Aside from a rhetorical “How much would you like dinosaurs to know about you?” at the end, this will please budding dinophiles as it raises their awareness of the split between paleontological fact and speculation. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-8050-6757-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2006

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A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010).


A small bison meets some ice age megafauna in this prehistoric ramble.

Assuring his mom that “I’m big now. I’m not scared!” little Toby scampers off. He collides with a grumpy woolly rhinoceros, introduces himself to a Megatherium, wonders at a woolly mammoth’s tusks, and sidles anxiously past a handful of other Pleistocene creatures—including a group of fur-clad humans—before gamboling back to safety. Along with exchanged greetings, each encounter comes with a side box of descriptive facts and comments, plus a small image of the animal posed next to a human (in modern dress) for comparison. Young viewers will marvel at the succession of massive ruminants and predators, which Lillington renders in watercolors with reasonable accuracy, if anthropomorphic facial expressions. He offers measurements in metric units only (except for humans, whose weight is opaquely designated “average”). Rather anticlimactically, he caps his gallery with a perfunctory, unillustrated list of “some other amazing ice age animals that Toby didn’t get to meet!”

A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010). (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-909263-58-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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Overall, an appealing collection for readers who like superlatives.



Outsize animals have thrived in diverse environments since before the age of dinosaurs and can still be found today.

The prolific Gifford here introduces a selection of some of the largest reptiles, amphibians, mammals, fish, birds, and insects ever to live on Earth. The information is presented in topical spreads, with one to several big animals to a page. On the introductory spread, Gifford speculates about possible reasons for such extraordinary sizes. An accompanying illustration shows a brown-skinned scientist studying fossils in the field. Gifford’s selections are organized into three sections, covering animals of the past on land and in water followed by animals of today. Short descriptions of each animal make up most of the text. Each spread includes silhouettes comparing the sizes of the animals on the page to a human adult and child. A center gatefold shows a timeline of life on Earth, and a final spread introduces some smaller animals that are the largest of their kind (the goliath frog, the Komodo dragon). Gray’s illustrations feature colorful dinosaurs and accurately portrayed modern animals, many in appropriate environments. The clear organization and bite-sized chunks of information make this quite accessible to young lovers of animals past and present. No sources are provided, but a paleontologist is credited as consultant.

Overall, an appealing collection for readers who like superlatives. (index) (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-78312-850-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Welbeck Children's

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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