Saturday, December 2, 2023

Today's read... The Bone Wars by Jane Kurtz

Today's read just hit the shelves a little over a week almost a book birthday. I was thrilled to get my hands on a copy, since I'm always on the look-out for good, nonfiction reads. And this one appeared to be 'good'....dinosaurs, bones, and that with the promise of a war between fossil hunters. Let's just dive in and see if it might be something young dinosaur fans will enjoy seeing under the Christmas tree

by Jane Kurtz
Illustrated by Alexander Vidal
Beach Lane Books
Picture Book  /   Nonfiction
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

Discover the true story of the race between two paleontologists to find the best dinosaur fossils in this fascinating, fast-paced nonfiction picture book. Who will win the Bone Wars?

Did you know that many of the dinosaur skeletons you see in museums are rooted in a scientific battle between two paleontologists? O. C. Marsh and Edward Cope met in 1863 and bonded over their shared love of fossils, becoming the best of friends…until the day Marsh discovered an error in Cope’s work, and the Bone Wars began!

Marsh and Cope stopped collaborating and started competing, excavating fossils as fast as they could, and trying to find the most important never-before-seen discoveries. They each wanted the biggest, best dinosaur bones. And fast! They used code names and disguises, they snooped and tricked, and did everything possible to keep their finds secret. The race was messy and there were many mistakes along the way, but in the end, Marsh and Cope discovered all kinds of new dinosaur skeletons to share with the world—fossils we still get to see today!



While dinosaur bones are already interesting, a historic fight between two men over ancient bones grabs even more attention.

O.C. Marsh and Edward Cope were two lead paleontologists around 1860, and they happened to become good friends. Each ones' new discoveries made the other one cheer...until one of them made a mistake while puzzling the latest bones together. What was once friendship turned into a determined race, each one trying to discover more new dinosaurs than the other. But the surprise can be found in who truly won their ruthless competition.

These pages prove that history isn't boring...but of course, dinosaur bones already will win more than a few readers over. Beginning with the warmth of an inspiring and fun friendship, this book launches into the interesting relationship between two men as they hunted for bones, discovered many new locations, and named more than a couple of their finds. While this doesn't go into depth about dinosaur facts or excavation, it does give a general idea about what happened when bones were discovered, what dinosaurs these men found and named (brontosaurus, stegosaurus, etc), and a glimpse at the competition, which surrounded these finds. It also demonstrates how mistakes were made when piecing these bones together.

The author does a great job at keeping the text and story interesting. Readers will have no problem identifying with the frustration when friendships sour, and they will wonder and shake their heads (and even giggle) at the nonsense the two caused as they tried to out-do each other. The ending does bring in a message about these types of fights (very subtly), but more importantly, carries an uplifting surprise.

As if the story itself wasn't well written for the age group (and older readers), the illustrations will have young dinosaur fans gazing at the pages. These aren't done in great detail but are easy to identify. Plus, the couple mistakes made by the men will have dinosaur fans smiling and show that these discoveries weren't always easy. 

And here they are...

Jane Kurtz was born in Portland, Oregon, but when she was two years old, her parents decided to move to Ethiopia, where she spent most of her childhood. Jane speaks about being an author at schools and conferences—in all but eleven of the United States, so far, and such places as Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, France, Germany, Romania, England, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Japan. She helped start Ethiopia Reads (, a nonprofit that has opened the first libraries for children in Ethiopia. She is the author of many books for children, including What Do They Do with All that Poo? illustrated by Allison Black, Do Kangaroos Wear Seat Belts? illustrated by Jane Manning, Anna Was Here, and the American Girl book Lanie.  

Originally from New Mexico, Alexander Vidal studied cultural anthropology and spent time living in Africa and Asia before starting his career in illustration. Travel, exploration, and a love of animals and wild spaces continue to drive the themes of his work. He is the illustrator of the board book So Many Feet; nonfiction family activity book I Love Birds!: 52 Ways to Wonder, Wander, and Explore Birds with Kids; and picture books Cougar Crossing!, Just You and Me, and The Bone Wars. He is a graduate of ArtCenter College of Design and lives in Los Angeles.

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