Thursday, April 18, 2024

Who's That Dinosaur? by Gabrielle Balkan

 Today, I have another flap book!!! Yep, these always make me smile...simple minded fun. But this book isn't really 'simple-minded'. These pages hold dinosaur goodness and promise to teach more facts about these creatures, while offering a playful, guessing-game atmosphere. Since I know a few dino enthusiasts, I'm curious to see if this is one they'd enjoy picking up.

So, it's time to let that inner-paleontologist come out and see if this is dino fun or not.

An Animal Guessing Game
by Gabrielle Balkan
Illustrated by Sam Brewster
Phaidon Press
Picture Book
28 pages
ages 3-5

A playful, informative introduction to dinosaurs for the youngest readers, by the team behind the bestselling Book of Bones Set up as a guessing game with visual and narrative clues, Who's That Dinosaur? invites readers to examine seven skeletons and guess to whom they belong. The answer is provided in a vibrant, foldout reveal, accompanied by an explanation as to why each dinosaur's body was so special. It's a humorous, informative introduction to fossils and dinosaur anatomy, where, in a surprise twist, young children learn how birds are modern-day dinosaurs. A fun and informative introduction to the ever-popular topic of dinosaurs. 



Young dinosaur fans get to revisit some of their favorites, while also discovering (maybe) a few new dinos to love.

This books adds a fun twist to the realm of dinosaur books by challenging young readers to get involved. After a quick introduction to fossils, it dives into the prehistoric creatures. A skeleton is presented with a couple highlights to the specific dino's special abilities. Then, there's a couple of clues presented about the dinosaur on the other side of the two-page spread. The reader is asked to guess the name of the dino. The answer is then revealed by opening up a large flat. This not only presents the answer but gives a few more details about the creature.

I was surprised how well this fits to the 3 to 5 age group—not overly easy but not pushing too far into the details, either. This isn't a list of detailed facts, but rather steers to the attributes of each dinosaur in a playful manner. The text flows with lightness, while working interesting tidbits in seamlessly. It isn't an overwhelming amount and fits well to the average attention span of the intended audience. I was surprised at the variety of dinosaurs presented, since it includes a few outside of the 'norm'. So, it offers something to those readers, who might know their dinosaurs fairly well, too. 

The atmosphere sticks to that of a game, prompting readers to think about each clue. The accompanying skeleton is a great hint without completely giving the answer and offers visual insights with additional knowledge. The flaps add that extra hint of fun and help maintain the game feel. I did appreciate that these open up and still allow the skeleton on the opposite side to remain in full view. It's a book to put a smile on dino-fans faces.

And here they are...

Gabrielle Balkan is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, New York. Her books include the best-selling Book of Bones and the acclaimed The 50 State atlas series. Gabrielle is a former children's book buyer and commissioning editor.

Sam Brewster is an award-winning freelance illustrator, photographer, and filmmaker based in London. He has a roster of prestigious clients around the world, including the New York Times, the Guardian, and Creative Review.

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