‘I may look like a dino that lives in the sea, but that wouldn’t be fair to my family tree. I swim with flippers – oh yes, I’ve got four! But – I am not a dinosaur!’ This rhyme is spoken by the prehistoric reptile, the Plesiosaur, one of eleven prehistoric creatures in this book intent on affirming its non-dinosaur status. The book, written in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History and based on specimens in its collections, opens with an interesting introduction by Dr Mark Norell, Chairman of Paleontology at the museum.
What follows is an informative, playful, beautifully illustrated introduction to these wonderful creatures. Each one is presented in earthy, textured collage-style illustrations set on clean, bright backgrounds and accompanied by sparse text. We meet more familiar animals like the sabre-toothed cat and woolly mammoth as well as the lesser known dunkleosteus and glyptodont.
Notwithstanding the title, the book includes a two page spread on five actual dinosaurs. A wise decision given that this book will certainly appeal to young dinosaur fans. However, the overly complex page-long explanation of what a dinosaur actually is, as well as the final pages of the book which feature informative short notes, fossil photos and a timeline is at odds with the simple rhyming text of the rest of the book which seemed pitched at a much younger audience. On the other hand this could provide long-lasting appeal for budding palaeontologists.