Book Review: Prehistoric Actual Size

Review cross-posted to our sister site, Caterpickles. 

Prehistoric Actual Size
By Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin, 2005
Age Range: 4-8

Reading this book to my four-year-old daughter, I found myself placing my hands on the page very carefully, lest I snag my finger on a Baryonyx claw or accidentally touch the Very Large Cockroach. It’s not that the illustrations are so terribly life-like. They are clearly pictures. It’s just that the effect of seeing these creatures, or in most cases, bits of these creatures, at actual size is so startling.  As I type this, I am cringing away from a millipede larger than my computer.

Sure, the view from within a Giganotosaurus mouth is striking, but it’s the pictures of the creepy crawlies that get to me the most. Dinosaurs are supposed to be huge. Dragonflies have no business being larger than my cat.

And once you start thinking about the actual sizes of these things, it’s hard to stop. We have a private airport in our town, which means we often see small planes flying just overhead. A few days after reading this book, I spotted a biplane through the moon roof of my car, and for a moment, imagined it was a Quetzalcoatlus, a flying pterosaur with a wingspan of some 35 feet. Unsettling. But if you (or your preschooler) are fascinated with dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, an awful lot of fun.

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book, Did Dinosaurs Have Belly Buttons?, is currently planned for release in 2018. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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