Golden book of dinosaurs version 2.0

I don’t think the Golden books were ever quite as big in the UK as they were in the U.S., but we certainly had them over here and I do recall coming across the now classic Golden Book of Dinosaurs as a child. As with many such books it was well illustrated with many pictures and relatively little text, and it certainly had appeal – almost everyone I know who has mentioned it has warm memories of the book.

It is then a tough act to follow, even in the modern age where there are huge numbers of competing titles and this is the route taken by Bob Bakker and Luis Rey. To pay tribute to the old, but make it modern and contemporary, and also keep it ‘competitive’ is no easy task, but I think they have done admirably. The text is crisp and simple and easy to read and is written in a manner that I am absolutely sure will appeal to a great many children with some evocative ideas and explanations. What is also nice is that it doesn’t shay away in places from a little technical language or complex ideas (like fenestra in skulls to separate mammals from reptiles) that help go beyond the mere basics.

There are some annoyances though. Yes, excitement and interesting hypotheses can help draw people in and especially when aimed at a young audience it can be difficult to make things clear and simple but also keep them accurate, but there are places where the text leans on minority or untested hypotheses (sauropods battling with their necks and whip-cracking tails) and some irritating and unnecessary terminology (Bakker’s awful predilection for calling pterosaurs “dactyls”).

The art however is very Luis Rey. I know not everyone likes his style, and if not, well this won’t be for you. But for those who do, it’s a typically wonderful mix of the dramatic, bold and bright with good anatomical details and getting in plenty of feathers and the like in all the right places. There are updated versions of older pictures (like the brooding oviraptorosaur) and plenty of new ones, not least the cover set to mimic the original book.

Overall though this book is aimed at children and needs to be judged with that in mind. With that forefront the book is great – I’m sure young children will devour it and it will generate both interest and understanding of dinosaurs. As a way to excite those who are already keen or draw in those who have yet to experience dinosaurs I am sure this will do a great job and that’s exactly something I can’t say for too many kids books on dinosaurs. Great job guys.

3 Responses to “Golden book of dinosaurs version 2.0”

  1. 1 David 19/10/2013 at 8:11 pm

    Does the new book contain an illustration of a dinosaur alongside a parrot, owl, duck, penguin, or flamingo? Just wondering.

    Winged Victory: Modern Birds Now Found to Have Been Contemporaries of Dinosaurs

  2. 3 luisvrey 20/10/2013 at 1:28 pm

    Thank you David… keenly observed as usual. It has to be taken in consideration that the audience of the book was supposed to be mainly American… and Bakker was sometimes writing in a language that is meant to be most popular among kids there. There were many limitations in doing this book and we had to fight quite a lot to get some of our ideas through… I managed to insert quite a few, but not all by all means! Not that it could or wanted to be compared with the original 50’s book (so many people grew up with that book in the US!)… but we had to try doing something new with the “Traditional” considering what the world is today and the vast advances in modern Palaeontology.

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