28 February 2008

Time travel commencing

I know book reviews are George’s bread and butter, but this is one I have been using with my preschoolers, and think of it as the indispensable Disney dino guide for children, and wanted to share it with the rest of you.

First off, the basics, Disney’s Countdown to Extinction was written by A.J. Wood and illustrated by Chris Forsey, and was published by Disney Press in 1998, the same year Animal Kingdom opened, and is only available in hardcover. The book is presented as a mission for the reader to undertake. This mission, should they choose to accept it, is to board a Time Rover and book it back in time to check on seven dinosaurs in order to update the Dinosaur Institute’s records. Along the way, you are told, you may also spot sixteen other dinosaurs. Almost all of these dinosaurs are mentioned and seen in the Dinosaur (previously Countdown to Extinction) attraction.

Both the writing and the artwork of this book are in tune with their audience. The pictures are bright and full of action, as well as being, at least by my doctoral knowledge of dinosaurs’ standard, accurate in the details. The particulars of the writing are enough to engage a preschooler when the book is read to them, or to be used as a first reference book for early to intermediate readers. Obviously there are substantial amounts of vocabulary that children will not have, but with guidance, these are words children will begin to recognize in no time.

Each page, or record entry, includes the name of the dinosaur being observed, the time period, both as a name and time (i.e. Late Jurassic Period and 150 million years ago), the location the dinosaur could be found in, and the Dinofile, which gives more details about the dinosaur in question. Alongside all of this information is a historical narrative of the time, place, and other dinosaurs in the area. Within each page’s graphics is also included a hologram of the dinosaur this part of the mission has sent us in search of. The book is closed out with some final notes on the twenty-four dinosaurs encountered on the journey for the Dinosaur Institute.

If I have one criticism of the book it is that it presents an attraction to children in a thrilling way that entices them to want to experience the Dinosaur attraction. Yet, many of this book’s target audience are either unable to visit this attraction due to height requirements, or can become easily terrified of the attraction due to its ambience and effects. As we all know, even adults can sometimes have a problem with this attraction. But, taking the book on its own merits, I wouldn’t ever remove it from my collection.

As I said above, I use this book at least once a year in my own classroom when we are talking about dinosaurs (sometimes we talk about them several times a year, depending on the interests of my students), and this is always a popular book. I recommend it to my parents, as several copies are always available from sellers on Amazon, or to anyone with a Young Adventurer who is fascinated with the prehistoric pedigree. It also isn’t a bad book to have if you are looking for out of print Disney books.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Mmmmm...bread and butter!

Nice review, Ryan. I am going to add that one to my list.