Dinosaurs and comics – what could be better? After a brief introduction to the different prehistoric time periods during which dinosaurs existed and a graphic introduction to dinosaurs as predators, the book discusses ten dinosaurs: allosaurus, ankylosaurus, Apatosaurus, pteranodon, sarcosuchus, spinosaurus, stegosaurus, tyrannosaurus rex, triceratops, and velociraptor. A brief afterword explains that discoveries are still being made and new evidence uncovered about the lives and biology of dinosaurs.
Each section introduces the featured dinosaur with a “fact file” giving the dinosaur’s common name, its meaning, the dinosaur’s type, era, where its fossils have been found, diet, hunting method and size. Smaller sections of text on colored backgrounds caption the illustration of the dinosaur and give additional facts. This introduction is followed by a dramatic narrative in three to four spreads, usually showing a hunt or fight between dinosaurs. Some sections end with additional information about the dinosaur or its discovery.
The art is photographic and full of action, drama, and lots of gaping jaws and bloody flesh. The pictures emphasize the predators hunting, eating, and fighting and are mostly fairly clear, although in some spreads the multiplicity of panels dividing the action is confusing and the pictures are occasionally muddy and overcrowded. The type is clear with words randomly in bold – usually verbs, but other words are also highlighted with for no apparent reason.
The real drawback to what could otherwise have been a popular and fun overview of dinosaurs is the poor grammar and punctuation. The worst offenses are in the introduction to the different time periods. For example, “The dinosaurs rose to prominence in the wake of the extinction, as Pangaea moved northward. Great sea creatures, swam the oceans and powerful creatures roamed the warm land.” A little later on, “ The Cretaceous period is the most explosive period as dinosaur, animal, and fish diversity grew in scope.” In general, this book could have been improved by the removal of at least half of the commas, most of which are incorrectly placed or unnecessary and make the text extremely confusing, especially for a young reader.
The book frequently references scientific discoveries in vague terms, “scientists believe,” “the common wisdom,” “some have theorized” but only a few actual paleontologists are listed by name, the only contemporary one being the controversial and popular Robert Bakker. No sources or bibliography are provided.
Young readers will enjoy the heavily dramatized battles and gory pictures, but with no sources or background the information provided about dinosaurs is suspect. However, the text is in general so badly constructed that most kids will just be looking at the pictures anyways. The book is only available in paperback and the binding does not appear sturdy enough to stand up to multiple checkouts or heavy handling. If you have young patrons who want gruesomely illustrated dinosaur battles and a heavily-dramatized view of dinosaurs, this is a possible additional purchase. However, if you are looking for a strong dinosaur series that will appeal to a wide range of readers I would recommend the Graphic Dinosaurs series, written mostly by Rob Shone and David West and published by PowerKids Press
Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Predators
by Joe Brusha, Neo Edmund, Robert Greenberger, Paul Kupperberg, Aaron Rosenberg, Jim Spivey
Art by Caio Cacau, Dsagar Fornies, Alejandro Germanico, Christopher Gugliotti, Gordon Purchell, Robin Riggs, Rae Rochelle, Anthony Spay, Alessandro Ventura
Silver Dragon Books, 2011