Prehistoric Pets by Dean Lomax,  illustrated by Mike Love

Prehistoric Pets by Dean Lomax,  illustrated by Mike Love. Templar Books, Candlewick Press, c2020, 2021. 9781536217148

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover pop-up book

What did you like about the book?  Sure to be a crowd-pleaser, although I fear for the pop-ups. In this clever concept book, we meet 7 cute modern pets who are each paired with a prehistoric ancestor.  On the left-facing page, we see fuzzy Ernest the guinea pig and learn about his size, origins, habits and food while the right page reviews the rise of the rodents. When you open the hinged right page, a giant, 1-ton josephoartigasia emerges as a pop-up, along with facts gleaned from its fossil record. And so on, from parakeets to dogs. The slick, colorful digital artwork places each animal (both modern and extinct) in its habitat. The pop-ups are eye-catching and ingenious and seem reasonably sturdy. The text is specific and full of interesting facts, although the quasi-script handwriting of some of the sections might prove tough for kids. The conversational tone and contextual/visual cues will help elementary readers understand most of the vocabulary and pronunciation guides accompany the scientific names.

Anything you didn’t like about it? It seems a bit of misdirection to say that velociraptor is an ancestor of the parakeet. I mean, all birds are descended from dinosaurs, but is the common housepet more directly related to some other dino? Most of the other pairings are similarly sensationalist. Although I love pop-ups and these ones are really nice, this seems more like a book to read once, which makes it a poor fit for a household purchase and too delicate for library use. I wish there had been some biographical information about the author, who is a real-life paleontologist.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Tricky. It seems more like a gift book purchase from indulgent grandparents to a 6-9 year old. Children interested in paleontology (and ready to move beyond dinosaurs) and aspiring veterinarians will enjoy this one.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries or for home purchase

Where would you shelve it? 560

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: September 16, 2021

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