Dinosaurium (Welcome to the Museum) by Lily Murray and Chris Wormell

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Dinosaurium (Welcome to the Museum) by Lily Murray and Chris Wormell

Murray Dino.jpg
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Category: Popular Science
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: One of the superlative non-fiction books of the year, that drags this topic right back onto the universal shelf – even for us adults.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 112 Date: October 2017
Publisher: Big Picture Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781783707928

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One of the selling points for entities like the Jurassic Park films is that they bring all the high-energy action of dinosaur life to the screen, in a way that is suitable, they would say, for children of all ages. But there is a very different way of going about things. This book does feature dinosaur-on-dinosaur combat, but only in presenting the most scientific of fossil remains. It delves into the evolutionary life of what we have long loved to enjoy and all the major scientific developments for the most inquisitive student, so the book is actually worth considering in a very different way. I would say this is ideal for adults of all ages.

It is presented, as the compound word title would suggest, entirely as a museum. So much so the credits list the makers as 'curators', the chapters are 'galleries' and so on. The book starts with one of those introductory panels you get in museums, with the key information in large print for the passing browser, and the rest in smaller font for those staying for the long term. Every spread of this jumbo book features just one full-colour image, and all the information we need to know is provided by the clear text – well, by that and the numbered captions in the key. And when was the last time you saw a new book with tiny numbers in the 'plate' and a key to them all?!

Those plates are wonderful, by the way, and the only way I knew they were digital engravings was the full-disclosure approach of the credits page. They don't try and do the unlikely as regards the creatures' colouring (forever a sticking point with me, as this is science that has changed so much in my lifetime), they just present the animals in all their full-bodied representation, along with a couple of scientific diagrams. It's just one side of the whole class of this volume when I mention the almost heraldic pose of some attacking dinosaurs, and I don't use hyperbole when I say the Diabloceratops here is the Durer Rhinoceros for the next century.

It's the terms such as Diabloceratops that make me mention the text. It's very clear and erudite, but the detail in the names and the complete scientific approach could be way over the heads of some. It's likely Ceratosaurus fed on smaller prey, such as ornithopods. That's all well and good and fully accurate, but we've not seen the ornithopods yet. But this is once again the class of the book – whereas we had always been presented with one of this type of dinosaur, often fighting one of those, here we can see them all in their evolutionary positioning – the timeline from one species to the other is to be found here as never before, and for the first time ever I'm being presented with all the full double-barrelled scientific names. Yes, it's still odd that it's Tyrannosaurus rex as there is no other kind, but when it comes to the Psittacosaurus there are eleven known to man – and it's about time all this scientific richness is available to the common reader.

Which brings me to my final point. This is a publication from a house that presents children's non-fiction – and does it very well. But while the timeless, ageless, wonderful presentation and full definition of the dinosaur evolutionary tree is a great corrective to the somewhat less-than academic approach elsewhere, and while the huge format of the book itself suggests a young read, this won't be perfect for every school library. It does, however, adhere to the claim on the 'museum ticket' on the front, that all can be admitted. And that, for a change, includes us adults. Yes, certainly for those of us who latched on to this subject as a youth, this is a seriously superb and superbly serious book, and is the volume we should replace all our prior dinosaur books with.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

That non-academic approach I mentioned is epitomised by Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures: Step Into a Prehistoric World by Emily Hawkins and Lucy Letherland, however wonderful it actually is in its novel presentation of the topic.

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Buy Dinosaurium (Welcome to the Museum) by Lily Murray and Chris Wormell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dinosaurium (Welcome to the Museum) by Lily Murray and Chris Wormell at Amazon.com.

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