Daily Press (Sunday)

Wildly interestin­g dinosaurs make great reading for kids

- Caroline Luzzatto has taught preschool and fourth grade. Reach her at luzzatto. bookworms@gmail.com

Caroline Luzzatto Even for people of advanced years (like me), the past can seem slippery and far away. For the very young — who have so little past to reckon with — it’s an even more difficult thing to grasp. Last week and last year are hard enough to think about, and times even longer ago are hopelessly abstract. Thank heavens for the fascinatin­g creatures of the distant past, which are both indescriba­bly cool and a concrete reminder of how different life once was.

For readers young and old who are ready to dive into the past, consider these colorful exploratio­ns of the long-ago residents of planet Earth.

“Stomp and Chomp: My First Book of Dinosaurs” by Simon Mole, illustrate­d by Matt Hunt.

(Ages 2 through 5. Candlewick Press. $19.)

With bold illustrati­ons and clever poems describing the wonder of the amazing beasts who once ruled the world, Simon Mole highlights the tiny, the ferocious, the feathered and the exceedingl­y large.

The diplodocus, for instance, was a “planet on legs,” growing “so very, very big/ that small animals live/ their whole lives on my back!” Enchanting­ly, it also includes an ode to the chicken, who crows that her “great-great-greatgreat-granny was a T. rex,” as well as a discussion of fossils and a dinosaur timeline that stretches from “a really long time ago” to “a really, really, really long

“Whose Dinosaur Bones Are Those?” by Chihiro Takeuchi.

(Ages 3 through 5. Candlewick Studio. $17.99.)

For young people who dream of uncovering yet more fossils, Chihiro Takeuchi’s colorful, beautifull­y designed cut-paper illustrati­ons offer an inspiring look at the puzzle of putting together dinosaur skeletons.

Each spread features hints such as footprints, plants or prey, and mixed-up bones — followed by pictures of the pieces put together and full-color renderings of the ancient creatures.

“Have You Seen My Invisible Dinosaur?” by Helen Yoon.

(Ages 3 through 7. Candlewick Press. $18.99.)

For readers whose tastes run more to funny, clever stories than heart-stopping ones, and those who wish ancient creatures weren’t confined to the past, Helen Yoon’s witty take on the pet-dinosaur story is full of visual humor and offers a fun turn-around at the end.

A little girl laments that her invisible pet dino has gotten really dirty, so “I soaped him and scrubbed him and rinsed him until he was extra clean.”


Putting out his favorite snack didn’t work, and those “lost dinosaur” posters didn’t either … but with hope, and silliness, and a bit of dirt, the buddies finally find each other — until the next bath, anyway.

“Stone Age Beasts” by Ben Lerwill, illustrate­d by Grahame Baker-Smith.

(Ages 6 through 9. Candlewick Press. $19.99.)

For intrepid young readers who like their ancient creatures hairier and scarier, Ben Lerwill’s fact-packed book about Stone Age animals offers a stunning collection of thrillers. Grahame BakerSmith’s hyper-detailed illustrati­ons are glistening with ropy saliva, sharp teeth, and razor-sharp talons — and even the more approachab­le creatures on display (the giant ground sloth, giant lemur and tank-like glyptodon) look a bit surly and standoffis­h.

The giant short-faced bear, pictured mid-growl, was a “hypercarni­vore,” readers learn, requiring about 35 pounds of meat (the equivalent of

190 sausages) per day.

The wonambi, a 20-foot Australian snake, shows off its long, curved fangs, and the fierce dire wolf howls at the moon – and, at the end of the book, the author offers some informatio­n about why these unsettling animals disappeare­d, and how we know about them. (Due Tuesday.)

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