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Save Your Movie Money; Buy a Dino Book!

Share For less than the price of two tickets to Dinosaur, the movie, young readers can own any one of three fine books that highlight the work of scientists who study dinosaurs. Add popcorn and read!

Young readers have a voracious appetite for books about dinosaurs. Three books that highlight the work of dinosaur experts will whet any dino fan's appetite for factual material.

  • Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs (National Geographic Society) is a photobiography of Roy Chapman Andrews, a pioneer in field research, who led five scientific expeditions between 1922 and 1930. Author Ann Bausman documents Andrews' work and discoveries.
  • Digging for Bird-Dinosaurs: An Expedition to Madagascar (part of Houghton Mifflin's Scientists in the Field series) tracks the work of Cathy Forster -- a rare species herself, a female paleontologist -- as she tries to make connections between today's birds and long-extinct dinosaur species.
  • Dinosaurs to Dodos: An Encyclopedia of Extinct Animals (Scholastic, Inc.) is written by Don Lessem, a familiar name to most dino aficionados. Lessem founded the Dinosaur Society and its newspaper for children, Dino Times.


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Fresh out of college in 1906, Roy Chapman Andrews took off for New York City -- quite an adventure for a young man who had never traveled farther from his Wisconsin birthplace than Chicago. Andrews's first stop in New York was the American Museum of Natural History. Told that there were no jobs to be had there, Chapman begged the museum's director to hire him to wash the floors. "But a man with a college education doesn't want to clean floors!" the director said to Andrews. "No, not just any floors," Andrews replied. "But the museum floors are different. I'll clean them and love it, if you'll let me."

Andrews got the job, for which he earned $40 a month!. Who would have known that many years later, Andrews would become director of the museum!

Many people assume that Roy Chapman Andrews was the model for the Indiana Jones character. Indeed, Andrews had his share of adventure -- and close calls:

"In the [first] 15 years [of fieldwork] I can remember just ten times when I had really narrow escapes from death," Chapman once recalled. "Two were from drowning in typhoons, one was when our boat was charged by a wounded whale, once my wife and I were nearly eaten by wild dogs, once we were in great danger from fanatical lama priests; two were close calls when I fell over cliffs, once I was nearly caught by a huge python, and twice I might have been killed by bandits."
Andrews was one of the great explorers of the century. A pioneer in modern field research, he is best known for discovering dinosaur bones, the first-ever complete nest of dinosaur eggs, and the first fossils of Protoceratops, Oviraptor, and Velociraptor.

Author Ann Bausum has peppered the pages of Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs with quotes and historic images. "After learning how Andrews influenced earlier generations of young people, I wanted to revive his story so new readers could once more enjoy hearing about his adventures and accomplishments," Bausum recalled. "Perhaps his example will help inspire others to make their own big dreams come true."

Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs is the fifth in a series of photobiographies from the National Geographic Society. Other titles in the series include Sky Pioneer: A Photobiography of Amelia Earhart and Light Shining Through the Mist: A Photobiography of Dian Fossey.


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Little time is spent reciting details about the background of paleontologist Cathy Forster. There are references to the dinosaur toys she got for her third Christmas. There's a photo of young Cathy holding a book about dinosaurs. There is a brief mention of early collections gathered at Mud Lake with her best friend, Nan. Were those clear clues that Forster would one day trek to Madagascar searching for proof that today's birds are evolved from dinosaur species that roamed Earth millions of years ago?

Just a few pages into Digging for Bird-Dinosaurs: An Expedition to Madagascar, readers take a huge leap. For the most of the balance of the book, author and photographer Nic Bishop tracks the painstaking work of Forster and a small group of paleontologists as they endure the burning sun to explore a remote region of northwestern Madagascar.

This is where Bishop shows himself expert with the details! Digging for Bird-Dinosaurs offers a vivid picture of the meticulous process of uncovering fossils and preparing them for shipment back to the laboratory for study.
Seldom do middle school age readers get up-close and personal with a real scientist, especially a female scientist. Digging for Bird-Dinosaurs is a don't-miss opportunity!


Book Cover Image "Dino" Don Lessem is one of the foremost dinosaur experts in the United States. Founder of the Dinosaur Society, Lessem started Dino Times, a popular newspaper for kids. What better person to create a dinosaur encyclopedia for kids?

What are condononts? Which end of Hallucigenia is up? What did many dinosaurs have in common with ballerinas? Why is Sir Richard Owen an important name in dinosaur history? What brought about the rise of mammals, and did they co-exist with dinosaurs? Those are just a few of the questions that Lessem answers in dozens of brief and informative articles and sidebars that comprise Dinosaurs to Dodos: An Encyclopedia of Extinct Animals.

Dinosaurs to Dodos is more than a dinosaur encyclopedia; it's an encyclopedia of time. Yes, dinosaurs are featured prominently, but Lessem gives equal time to the eras before dinosaurs existed and after their demise. He details time chronologically in 12 periods, from the earliest ocean life (long before life appeared on land) to today -- the Holocene Epoch -- when species are declining at a faster rate than ever.

Jan Sovak's illustrations are the perfect match for Lessem's dino tutorials. Sovak has created hundreds of historically accurate illustrations based on the latest information. The illustrations range from visually spectacular action scenes to a "gallery" at the end of each of the 12 time-period sections in the book. Each gallery presents information about and illustrations of a couple of handfuls of species that lived at the time but that have since disappeared.

Dinosaurs to Dodos is a thoroughly interesting volume that presents dinosaurs in the perspective of time. Although students will need to use other resources to further explore any particular species or time period, this new book from a renowned expert is the perfect starting point for that study!

The books highlighted this week are available in most bookstores. If you are unable to locate the book you're looking for, ask your bookseller to order it for you or contact the publisher directly.

  • Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs: A Photobiography of Roy Chapman Andrews, written by Ann Bausum, with photographs from the American Museum of Natural History, is published by the National Geographic Society, 1145 17th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036-4688.
  • Digging for Bird-Dinosaurs: An Expedition to Madagascar, written and photographed by Nic Bishop, is published by Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003.
  • Dinosaurs to Dodos: An Encyclopedia of Extinct Animals, written by Don Lessem and illustrated by Jan Sovak, is published by Scholastic, Inc. Call 1-800-SCHOLASTIC.
  • Gary Hopkins
    Education World® Editor-in-Chief
    Copyright © 2004 Education World

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    Originally published 05/25/2000