If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today by Dougal Dixon

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If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today by Dougal Dixon

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Category: Children's Non-Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A superb introduction to all things dinosaur looking at how they - and we - would cope if they were around today. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 96 Date: May 2013
Publisher: Ticktock Media Ltd
ISBN: 9781848985766

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As a child and even during my daughter's childhood, dinosaurs had not really gripped the public consciousness in the way that they have done over the last decade or so. This was useful in reviewing If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today as it meant that I approached the book with interest and curiosity but without being burdened by a great deal of prior knowledge.

I was impressed.

The book starts with a simple question. How would we cope, how would dinosaurs cope if they had not become extinct and were around today? They're put in context, going back to the beginnings of Planet Earth four and a half billion years ago and working forward to show how life evolved and asking if the skills the dinosaurs developed would allow them to survive today. The four groups of dinosaurs - plant-eaters, meat-eaters, ocean-dwellers and flying reptiles - are then looked at in some detail.

Each type is looked at individually and this is where the book really comes into its own. Let's take the sauroposeidon as an example. To give an idea of its size there's a picture showing the animal with a herd of elephants and demonstrating that it would be easy for the sauroposeidon to accidentally knock an elephant over with a careless flick of the tail. The picture dominates the double-page spread, but there's information as to where relevant fossils have been found (including a map), the animal's classification and its habitat. The name is translated, it's placed in time and then there are descriptions of the physical characteristics. These facts are given for each dinosaur, but there are also some further facts which vary. For the sauroposeidon there's some information about the neck and then a graph which shows its size in relation to an elephant. It's actually seven times as tall.

There's something there for every child, from a relatively young one who will simply enjoy looking at the pictures and getting an idea of how big the dinosaur was, how they defended themselves or even how they kept cool. For a child wanting more information the facts are there and they're sufficiently detailed to be used as the basis for anyone who wants to look into the subject in even more depth.

The section on dinosaur science deals with some meaty issues and does it in a user-friendly way. We don't know why the dinosaurs became extinct, but the various theories are simply and clearly stated and then a conclusion is drawn on the basis of what seems to have been likely. There's basic information about the layers of time, rock strata and dinosaur discoveries. I was particularly taken by the piece on the changing planet. It's easy to forget that continental drift is a continuing process, but the Atlantic Ocean is thirty metres wider now than it was when Columbus crossed it 500 years ago. Nothing in the section on dinosaur science is difficult to come to terms with although a lot of the concepts will be new to children.

The question and answer section deals with a lot of the questions that children are likely to ask. Did humans and dinosaurs ever live along side one another? What was the most blood-thirsty dinosaur? It's all rounded off with a glossary and an excellent index. For a child who is interested in dinosaurs (and the exceptions seem to be the children who are not interested!) it would be difficult to find a better book. It will be read and then it will be kept and referred to on many an occasion.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag.

We think that children who enjoy this type of book will also like Why is Snot Green? by Glenn Murphy. If they want a fictional look at the world of dinosaurs, Attack of the Lizard King (Dinosaur Cove) by Rex Stone is great fun.

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Buy If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today by Dougal Dixon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today by Dougal Dixon at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today by Dougal Dixon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today by Dougal Dixon at Amazon.com.


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Magda said:

It looks good, on the dino-information front.

However, does the book ever make a point that if dinosaurs were still around we probably wouldn't?

Sue replied:

Oh, yes, Magda. It makes the point on several occasions. This is a serious book about dinosaurs even though it's presented in what might be thought of as a slightly quirky way. It's scientifically accurate and whilst the pictures might suggest that dinosaurs appear at racecourses or airports the point is made that dinosaurs and man are separated by 60 million years and we would not be around if they were.