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With one of my sons planning to be a paleontologist when he grows up, and both of them loving any type of pop up book, it was no surprise when this came up on Amazon's recommendations for me. However, at nearly £12, and only 12 pages, I never even bothered really looking at the lovely photographs of this on the Amazon website. In fact, this book would never have made it into my basket if I had not chanced on another book in this series 'Encyclopedia Prehisorica Sharks and Other Sea Monsters'. at a boot sale. The young fellow who was selling it to raise funds for an X-box clearly loved the book, telling me it was his favourite book ever. I actually felt quite bad taking it, but happily paid the £2 he wanted rather than the £1 his mother had offered it to me for, and explained to the mother I was still practically stealing it. The fact that a book had stirred such passion in the young man, made me feel it must be a very worthwhile book, and my own boys were absolutely delighted by it.
After discovering how wonderful the first book was, I was willing to pay a bit more for another book in the same series, especially as this seems to be the main book, covering actual dinosaurs as opposed to prehistoric sea creatures. I still love a bargain though and waited until I found a copy near the £5 mark. In all honesty though, this book is still a bargain at £12 when you consider the wealth of information, as well as the truly spectacular pop up illustrations.
Although this book is only 12 pages, it has one or two small mini books on each page which open up to reveal more pop ups as well as more facts and information. The main pop ups are absolutely brilliant and both of my sons, now ages 3 and 6 love these. Anklyosaurus is their all time favourite ( because he looks like a Bakugan). There is also a remarkably detailed T-rex skeleton, a pair of triceratops, A brachiosaurus alongside a pop up man and elephant to give an idea of the size, a T-rex whose lunges forward snapping his jaws as you open and close the pages, and finally an incredibly strange looking feathered creature named archaeopetryx which with its dinosaur like skeleton and feathered wings is hailed as the link between modern birds. The smaller pop ups are equally well detailed, and cover a very wide range of subjects from the tiny euroraptor of the early Triassic to volcanoes and a meteor strike under possible causes for extinction.
As a general rule, I have pop up books are often lacking in substance. They rely on the gimmick of the pop up illustrations to sell the book. While these pop ups are among the best I have ever seen, the book is also extremely well written and would be an excellent book, even without the pop ups. The information is detailed, yet easy to understand. It mentions the fact that sometimes paleontologists get it wrong and includes the famous blunder in which iguanadons spiked thumb was originally thought to go on it's nose. After reading this book, a child will have a pretty good basic knowledge of paleontology as well as knowing the three periods within the Mesozoic Era (Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous), about fossils and the main types of dinosaurs as well as a few of the best known species. They will have an idea of size and scale of many of these beasts, as well as how they lived and the prevalent theories on how they died. That is a lot of information for 12 pages!
As I mentioned, by sons both love this book. To me any book that gives my boys so much pleasure is worth the purchase. They love playing with the pop ups. When asked what they like best about this book, both immediately replied "the pop ups!" But I know my sons have both learned from this book as well, especially the older one. I also expect this to be a book we use for many years to come as a reference source whenever we are studying anything dinosaur related.
I think this book would appeal to a very wide age range. My youngest was still aged 2 when I bought this and he absolutely loved it. The boy we bought the other book from was 14 and clearly still thought very highly of the book. Of course very young children will require supervision with the pop ups, and at 3, I still keep an eye on my youngest when he plays with this book. I do think he is a bit too young to understand a lot of the text as well - so I simplify it when reading this book just for him. At six, my oldest can understand this quite well, but the text is a bit small, and the reading level is basically adult, so I read this out loud to him. I believe the recommended reading age for this is about age 10 - which I don't think is far off. I'm sure many children will be able to get through it by age 8 though, and of course it is nice to still have some books they want you to read to them as they get older. I would expect this book to be enjoyed until at least age 14. I understand many adults now collect pop ups, and I honestly do not think any pop up collection would be complete without this book. I readily admit to being a big child at times, so I have no qualms in admitting that I really enjoyed this book myself. I can not see this book ever making it's way on to ebay but expect it to keep it's place on our family bookshelf until such time as their are grandchildren to claim it.