The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Prehistoric Times - December 2008

Selected and annotated by Sam Wittenberg


Andreae, Giles. Captain Flinn and the pirate dinosaurs; illus. by Russell Ayto. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2005. 4-7 yrs.
One day at school, dinosaur lover Flinn finds himself on an adventure. While looking for markers in the supply closet, he stumbles upon a sniffling pirate whose ship has been stolen. Joined by three of his friends from class, Flinn decides to help Captain Stubble regain his ship.

Bonner, Hannah. When fish got feet, sharks got teeth, and bugs began to swarm: a cartoon prehistory of life long before dinosaurs; written and illus. by Hannah Bonner. National Geographic, 2007. Grades 4-7.
This illustrated guide to the Devonian and Silurian period is full of fun facts presented in an engaging format that does not sacrifice the educational material for the sake entertaining. In the back is a section on links for those who want to learn more as well as a glossary and pronunciation guide.

Byars, Betsy. Boo's dinosaur; illus. by Erik Brooks. Henry Holt, 2006. Grades 1-3.
One day Boo makes a new friend when a full-size dinosaur follows her home. The story follows the time Boo and her dinosaur friend spend together. It is the secondary storyline, which is about the brother and sister relationship between Sammy and Boo, that brings the story to a close as Boo’s imaginary friend must leave.

Diffily, Deborah. Jurassic shark; illus. by Karen Carr. Harper Collins, 2004. 4-7 yrs.
Jurassic shark tells the story of Hybodus, "the deadliest shark in the sea", as she fights off other predators, hunts for food, and gives birth. The supporting cast of prehistoric ocean dwellers includes elasmosaurus, liopleurodon, and icthyosaurus. Full color illustrations help tell the story of what the now extinct shark might have been up to millions of years ago.

French, Vivian. T.Rex; illus. by Alison Bartlett. Candlewick Press, 2004. 4-6 yrs.
A grandfather takes a young boy curious about dinosaurs to visit a museum exhibit all about Tyrannosaurus rex. While there, the grandad and grandson converse in rhyme about the life of the great carnosaur. Throughout the book, the idea that so little is known about Tyrannosaurus rex is repeated leading to the end thought: "[t]he person to tell us might just be YOU!"

Goldenberg, Linda. Little people and a lost world : an anthropological mystery; Twenty-First Century Books, 2007. Grades 6-9.
Part mystery, part scientific account, Little People and a Lost World follows the story of the discovery of a meter-high humanlike skeleton found on an island in Indonesia in 2003. Unsure of whether it is a new species or a skeleton of an individual who had microcephaly, the researchers become involved in a controversy over the remains.

Griffin , Peni R. 11,000 years lost; Amulet Books, 2004. Grades 5-7.
After finding an 11,000 year-old spearhead from the late Pleistocene near her school in Texas , Esther gets sent back into the prehistoric past. Taken in by mammoth hunters from the Ice Age, she struggles to help her surrogate family survive.

Halls, Kelly Milner. Dinosaur mummies: beyond bare-bone fossils; illus. by Rick Spears. Darby Creek Publishing, 2003. Grades 4-8.
Focusing on different fossilized remains in each chapter, this book on "dinosaur mummies" is an informative foray into the world of paleontology. Explanations are supplemented with both color photos of the remains as well as illustrations of what the dinosaurs might have looked like when alive.

Hort, Lenny. Did dinosaurs eat pizza?: mysteries science hasn’t solved; illus. by John O’Brien. Henry Holt and Co., 2006. Grades 2-5.
Humorously illustrated, Did Dinosaurs Eat Pizza? points out many of the things science has yet to discover about these animals from the past. Brimming with questions, the book addresses topics varying from "How did dinosaurs mate?" to "What did dinosaurs sound like?"

Jenkins, Steve. Prehistoric actual size; illus. by Steve Jenkins. Houghton Mifflin, 2005. Grades 3-7.
As the title suggests, Prehistoric actual size provides the reader with images of prehistoric creatures in their actual sizes. Including some of the more common animals such as the velociraptor, Jenkins also introduces some less well known creatures such as the prehistoric mammal epigaulus. In the back of the book, more information is available as well as more complete portraits of each of the animals showcased. 

Kudlinski, Kathleen V. Boy, were we wrong about dinosaurs!; illus. by S.D. Schindler. Dutton Children’s Books, 2005. 6-10 yrs. Kudlinski explores some of the erroneous presuppositions made about dinosaurs in the past. Readers will be interested to learn now disproved beliefs such as those held by the ancient Chinese who thought they had found dragon bones after discovering dinosaur fossils or that older illustrations of dinosaurs depicted them walking like lizards with legs jutting out of their sides instead of directly under the body. Kids will learn both about previous misconceptions as well as some of the more current thoughts on dinosaurs.

Layton, Neal. Hot Hot Hot;illus. by Neal Layton. Candlewick Press, 2004. 4-7 yrs.
Meet Oscar and Arabella, two fun-loving mammoths trying to find the best way to cool off during the hot summer. After several unsuccessful attempts, they come to the conclusion that a haircut would be best and are soon offering their services to the other animals. By wintertime, the all grow back their fur except for the unfortunate caveman who had ditched his winter attire and ends the story with a cry of "kkkkkkkkold!".

Lund , Deb. Dinosailors; illus. by Howard Fine. Harcourt, Inc., 2003. 4-7 yrs.
A group of young dinosaurs join forces to become a dinotough dinocrew. All the way from captain hadrosaurus to cabin boy tyrannosaurus rex, the crew has a rollicking time on the high seas until a storm hits. Sick from their rough time at sea, the dinosailors divert their attention to a new subject with the cry of "Dinotrainers, all aboard!" 

Maloney, Peter and Feicia Zekauskas. Bronto eats meat; illus. by Peter Maloney and Felicia Zekauskas. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2003. 4-6 yrs.
Bronto, a young brontosaurus, finds himself not feeling well one day and though he insists on only eating the usual treetops, an x-ray reveals he mistakenly swallowed a young boy named Billy. The brontosaurus doctor has three options: the first way is vomiting, the second..."well, we all know what number two is", and the third is burping. Deciding to try the third option, both dinosaur and boy are relieved of their predicaments.

Paver, Michelle. Wolf Brother. HarperCollins, 2004. Grades 5-8.
Set after the Ice Age in the prehistoric forests of Europe , Wolf Brother tells the story of twelve year-old Torak whose father is killed by a giant demon-possessed bear. With an orphaned wolf pup as his guide, Torak embarks on a journey to find the World Spirit and ask for aid to defeat the bear. Both Torak's and Wolf's perspectives are intertwined as the pair travel to save their homes.

Sheldon, David. Barnum Brown: dinosaur hunter; Walker & Co., 2006. Grades 2-4.
Telling the story of the paleontologist who discovered the first fossils of Tyrannosaurus Rex, Barnum Brown: dinosaur hunter offers a different perspective on the subject of dinosaurs. While thinking about the prehistoric creatures themselves can be thrilling, Barnum Brown's experiences prove to be just as exciting as his teams compete with rivals in the field and make new discoveries.

Willems , Mo. Edwina, the dinosaur who didn't know she was extinct; written and illus. by Mo Willems. Hyperion Books for Children, 2006. 5-8 yrs.
The always helpful and cookie-baking dinosaur, Edwina, is loved by all—except Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie. He decides he must convince everyone that Edwina must be extinct. After being shocked by the revelation, Edwina decides that she does not really care and continues on her way. Reginald himself has a change of heart and the end of the story leaves the dinosaur and boy preparing to enjoy a fresh batch of cookies.  

Yolen, Jane. How do dinosaurs eat their food?; illus. by Mark Teague. Blue Sky Press, 2005. Ages 3-6 yrs.
Colorfully illustrated by Mark Teague, Yolen's dinosaurs are seen misbehaving before cleaning up their act and learning some table manners. Even the fierce looking cryolophosaurus knows to say "please" and "thank you" by the second half of the book. Learning proper mealtime behavior becomes fun when using whimsically colored dinosaur children as examples.

Top