The Prehistoric Times by Stella Gurney, Matthew Hodson and Neave Parker
|The Prehistoric Times by Stella Gurney, Matthew Hodson and Neave Parker|
|Category: Children's Non-Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sam Tyler|
|Summary: Read all the oldest news in this newspaper style book that explores the dinosaurs in a way that is sometimes hard to read.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 32||Date: June 2017|
|Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books|
With the ability to read the news on our phones or watch the 24 hour news channels, the days of the newspaper appear to be coming to an end. You could say that they are going to be extinct, much like the dinosaurs. So, if newspapers are a thing of the past and so are dinosaurs, it would make sense that dinosaurs had their own newspaper? Turns out this was the case and The Prehistoric Times covers several different eras on the hunt for only the best news and views.
Read all about it, read all about. T-Rex in midnight feast shock. Velociraptor found to be covered in feathers. Stegosaurus FC go for the Cup. Prehistoric Times is a whistle-stop tour through millions of years giving you a bunch of classic dinosaur information, but in the format of a newspaper. This means that you get salacious stories, but also interviews with some of the more famous creatures of the time and even the odd puzzle or two.
Stella Gurney should be commended for trying something new within the world of children's non-fiction. Often it is a pretty staid affair as pictures and facts are dotted over a series of pages. If not staid, then the more modern fact book feels like it has given a surgery drink as they hyperactively splash full colour images everywhere and seemingly shout information directly into your eyeballs. Prehistoric Times aims to do neither of these things by taking the format of a newspaper, but actually kind of does a bit of both.
The paper format is inherently a little dry; plenty of columns that contain different information. To remedy this the book has added zany illustrations and games. However, all this does it make the book feel like it has a constricted framework that is full of overly enthusiastic facts. Matters are not helped by the decision for the main colours to be orange and black, meaning that the too small script is even harder to read – the book just looks a little weird.
Speaking of which, the illustrative decisions are also odd. There are two in the book; Matthew Hodson's cartoons and Neave Parker's more realistic photo-like images. It really is a mash up of the sublime and the ridiculous. Whilst Parker's designs look brilliant and inspire, Hodson's work looks childlike. At points Hodson even draws over the work of Parker and that is surely the wrong way.
Hodson's doodles highlight an issue the book has with tone. The book is meant to be attractive to a young audience, but it is almost designed as if it was written and illustrated by a child. Gurney writes with enthusiasm, but the results are sometimes patronising. Aim to write for a child, not like a child.
It is a shame that a few editorial errors have made a promising idea so clumsy. Despite its childish script and illustrations there is actually a lot of useful information in the book. The faux interviews with dinosaurs are full of facts and would help a child understand how to use the genre of the newspaper. All this is hidden under a messy, orange format, so many people will never discover it before giving up.
Dinosaurs are very popular so there are loads of great books on the subject you could read; try If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today by Dougal Dixon.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Prehistoric Times by Stella Gurney, Matthew Hodson and Neave Parker at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Prehistoric Times by Stella Gurney, Matthew Hodson and Neave Parker at Amazon.com.
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