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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? and Other Prehistoric Picture Books

In Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? young Dave's uneventful trip to the museum takes an unlikely and entertaining twist. From the book's inside flap:

Dad takes Dave to the museum to see the dinosaurs. Dad is sure he knows all there is to know about these amazing creatures. But soon Dave gets the feeling that Dad has one hugely important fact very, very wrong.

Because, you see, as Dad and Davey pass each dino, the dino seems to come to life!

This is one of those terrific books that relies upon dramatic irony via the illustrations, because Julie Middleton's text doesn't let on to what's happening. Young readers, however, can certainly see for themselves that toes, tails, and terrible jaws are moving! During a read-aloud, a "knowing" adult will wisely avoid  being in on the joke, as children love to scream and point out the "secrets" that adults (because of their advanced age and failing eyesight) apparently don't notice for themselves.

Artist Russell Ayto's whimsical images are half the fun, showing us giant-headed monsters balanced on impossibly tiny legs. The creatures' equally understated, overstated, and improbably body part dimensions are fun to discuss as well. The format is large, with plenty of open space on each spreads that lends credibility to the size of the space and the dinosaurs themselves.

And this fantastic book can be yours! Peachtree Publishers is offering a giveaway copy of Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? to one lucky winner. 

Simply email me at keithschoch at gmail dot com (using standard email format) with the phrase Dinosaurs Live! and you're entered! That's it. No need to jump through any more hoops! Following the blog (to the left) would be appreciated (and you would be in some really good company), but is by no means necessary. 

Contest is open to US only, and ends Friday, March 8th, 11:59 PM EST.

Below you'll find some terrific companion books with activity extensions that could work equally well with Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? In addition to being mistaken about dinos, some adults are also mistaken in thinking you can ever have enough dinosaur books!

Cretaceous Companions
For the younger set, Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School by Ian Whybrow is a wonderful combination of a dino book and a first-day-of-school-jitters book. Harry's toy dinos help him makes new friends, and even assist another shy boy in acclimating to his new surroundings. Adrian Reynolds' bright and sunny illustrations are perfect for sharing and discussing during read-alouds. Check out other titles in this series including Harry and the Dinosaurs Say, "Raahh!" and Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs.

Extensions:
  • Students can bring in one of their own "prized possessions" and discuss what makes it special. 
  • Students might want to create their own simple paper plate dinosaurs, which can be displayed with a colorful bucket on the bulletin board. 
  • Students could imagine that they have a real, live dinosaur for a pet. How would that work? How would you feed him? Where would he sleep?
  • Looking for a fun and easy cooking project? Check out these fossil cookies.

Marvelous, Monstrous Models
The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley with illustrations by Brian Selznick ("many of which are based on the original sketches of Mr. Hawkins"). Working with scientist Richard Owens, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins wanted to create such perfect models of dinosaurs that anyone who gazed at his creations would see into the past. By using just the bits and pieces of fossils, bones, and teeth that had been found by early palaeontologists, Waterhouse filled in "gaps" by thinking of existing animals which the dinosaurs might have resembled. This book chronicles his triumphal premiere in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham Park (when tens of thousands of spectators, including the Queen, gaped in wonder at his creatures), as well as his tragedy in Central Park (when vandals under the vindictive order of Boss Tweed destroyed his dinosaurs destined for the Americans). Although we now realize that many of Waterhouse's guesses were somewhat inaccurate, no one can dispute his ability to light the imaginations of the thousands who viewed his works.

For more explorations into what we've learned about dinosaurs since the earliest days of their discovery, check out Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs by Kathleen Kudlinksi and S.D.Schindler.A terrific book for helping students understand that science never rests!

Extensions:
  • Students can use clay to design their own dinosaurs. They don't need to sculpt one specific, real-life dino; instead, they should simply use their imaginations to create an original prehistoric monster. Since scientist continue to discover new dinosaurs all the time, who's to say what the next dino discovery might look like?
  • Students might also enjoy building their own prehistoric pasta pets. Show students pictures of assembled dino skeletons in museums. Explain that while these models take many years to collect, piece together, and display, today students will create their own models using pasta as bones. Given a wide variety of different pasta shapes, students can assemble their own dinos by gluing their selected noodles to black construction paper. Once partially dry, the pasta will need a second coat to affix it well to the paper. 
  • For a look at how those dinosaurs get to the museum, check out the book (coincidentally called) How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland. This book explains how dinosaur bones go from the earth to you, the museum visitor, via fourteen other people, who are named and collected in a House-that-Jack-Built type progression.
Bold and Beautiful
A wonderful abecedarium can be discovered in An Alphabet of Dinosaurs by Peter Dodson, with paintings by Wayne D. Barlowe. Familiar favorites mix with newcomer neighbors on full spreads that features two text sections (one for emerging readers and another for fluent readers) and a full color illustration. The vivid and uniquely imagined colors and patterns of these dinos is what caught my eye when I first viewed this book. In the books' introduction we read: "The paintings in this book show the dinosaurs as we now think of them. Gone is the image of slow-moving giants. Gone is the picture of tail-dragging lizards. Instead, we see vibrant, active dinosaurs living in a world filled with brightly colored animals and plants.

Extensions: 
  • Taking a cue from this book, students can create their own unique dino patterns on simple coloring sheets. They can either color with vivid colors (danger! stay back!, bold colors (look at me!), muted colors (I need to hide), or patterns which create camouflage (to avoid being seen by prey or predator).
  • Older students can be given a simple white dino silhouette (shape) and a variety of a magazine from which to choose pictures. After choosing a large picture which can serve as a background, students will color in their dino shape to camouflage into the background.
Dino for a Day
In Jim Murphy's Dinosaur for a Day, older readers can explore a typical day in the life of a Hypsilophodon, a 90 pound herd animal that depended upon its wits and its companions for survival. Additional information from the author precedes and follows this din's "biography," providing for a complete profile of one specific creature. Mark Alan Weatherby's gorgeous paintings put us at dinosaur's-eye view with our surroundings, a perspective rarely seen in other dino books.

Extensions:
  • Have each student choose a dinosaur, and write about "a day in the life of..." Students may need to do some research on which dinosaurs lived in which period, and many students may discover that their dinos and their friends' dinos might have shared the same habitats!
  • Instead of a dinosaur, have students choose any other animal (or use an animal they've already researched). Require that students illustrate their "daily routine" with view that would be seen from their critter's perspective.
  • Create dino fossils in the classroom.
Modern Monsters
What if dinosaurs were alive today? How would our daily lives be different? In If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today, author Dougal Dixon answers that question with frightening predictions of predatory sea creatures that hunt sperm whales, and tyrannosaurs that terrorize longhorns. The photo-realistic illustrations are amazing as they juxtapose the prehistoric past with the present.
Can you picture yourself flying in a jet across peaceful skies, and suddenly seeing a Quetzalcoatlus, a pterosaur with the wingspan exceeding a small airplane? Can you imagine seeing your trashcan tipped over at the curb, not by a raccoon or even a coyote, but a scavenging carnivorous dino called Coelophysis? Students will love the retouched photos, so disturbingly realistic that one might begin to wonder, "What are the chances of the dinosaurs coming back?"

Extensions:
  • Challenge students to draw dinosaurs in modern day settings. How would their traits and habits affect their interactions with people?
  • Challenge students to put dinos to work. If they existed today, how could their size and strength be helpful to humans?
Wordless Wonders
Two clever books that tell neat dino tales are Time Flies by Eric Rohmann and Chalk by Bill Thomson.

Extensions:
  • The wordless format of both books offers the perfect opportunity for students to tell their own stories. Students can "write" similar books as a group, and tell their own stories.
  • Students might also be challenged to write the tales they "see" using poetry rather than prose.
How Do Dinosaurs...
From Jane Yolen and Mark Teague come the fantastic series of How Do Dinosaurs... books including How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? and How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? Kids will love all the dinos that Mark Teague includes, and they'll also appreciate the funny and fun-to-recite rhymes of Jane Yolen.

Extension:
  • Brainstorm a How to... problem with the class and write a similar story as a group, or challenge pairs or teams to come up with their own ideas (focusing on social skills seems to work well here).

Don't forget to enter to win! 

Double, triple, quadruple your chances by visiting some other stops of the Dino blog tour at these locations:


Monday
Letters, Numbers and Books, Oh My! also on Twitter @3bookworms
Tuesday
Teach with Picture Books also on Twitter @keithschoch
There's a Book also on Twitter @the1stdaughter
Wednesday
Boys to Books also on Twitter @boystobook
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers also on Twitter @GRgenius
Thursday
Friday
Kid Lit Reviews also on Twitter @KidLitReviews1

Good Luck!


5 comments:

Amber said...

these books look awesome! Will definitely have to look into it for my little paleontologist. :)

Amber @ bookgeekspeaks

Peachtree Publishers said...

This looks great, thanks Keith! I love seeing all the different dinosaur pairings. Very cool!

Renee C. said...

My son has many, many dinosaur books! The one you are giving away looks fabulous - I would love to read that one to him aloud. I'm in Canada so I'm not eligible but I'll tweet about the giveaway. My son also loved Harry and his Bucketful of Dinosaurs - he used to watch the cartoon on TV. :D

T. Drecker said...

Great choices! Especially since my son just took an interest in dinos :)

Keith Schoch said...

Thanks for all the comments, folks! I think every boy, and lots of girls as well, go through a dino phase, and there are never enough books to look through! This is another terrific one for the collection.