Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: Prehistoric by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

– Short Review –

Ideal for all young minds, a beautifully crafted book – from the full page renderings of dinosaurs to the brilliantly engaging words that accompany the artwork makes Prehistoric a book that all dinosaur fans should dig their claws into. Also a great book for schools, libraries and reluctant readers – the attention to detail is wonderful and the scope of the book (working its way back through history) is enlightening to young minds. It’s engaging and insightful and that’s what I want from a natural history book!

If you love dinosaurs, then this is the book for you!

– Longer Review –

Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld takes the reader on an unforgettable journey into the Prehistoric, a page turner (if that’s possible for what is a science book) that benefits from tremendously fully rendered images drawn by Julius Csotonyi – it’s a book to be marvelled at and lessons to be learned on every page, for reference or enjoyment Prehistoric has it all.

The language that Zoehfeld uses doesn’t polarise the younger reader, in fact it pulls them into learning without knowing it, and is delivered in an easy to read way. So, instead of children and young people stumbling over difficult words or the science behind the book, it leaves them enraptured and engaged throughout.

My oldest daughter loves dinosaurs and when this book arrived in the post, the cover gripped her immediately. She quickly squirrelled it away and devoured it – first flicking through and seeing all the fabulous artwork, and then returning to it later to read more about the dinosaurs and time periods that caught her eye. Then, and I think this is an added bonus of the book, she set about drawing her own dinosaurs from the source material on offer!

The contents of the book covers a whole host of history from the Anthropocene (present day) and then working its way back through time including the Palaeogene, End-Cretaceous Extinction, Cretaceous, Jurassic, Triassic all the way back to the Ediacaran and Before (4.6 Billion years ago). The way Prehistoric is set out enables us to see evolution in reverse and this tool that Zoehfeld uses makes the book work really well and gives the whole thing an internal scaffold to work from and through.

Julius Csotonyi should also be given a special mention with the artwork that covers each and every page of Prehistoric. Without him at the helm, this could have been another generic book about dinosaurs, various time periods and natural history (and dare I say boring). But with Csotonyi and his art work, it quite literally explodes off the page and grabs young and old minds alike, enabling them to envisage this land, time and creatures of a bygone era! Stunningly beautiful, vivid and a visual aid for all ages – his artwork is perfect for a project of this size and importance and you can really tell he loves what he illustrates.

So, my final thoughts are if you have children that love dinosaurs, this is the book for you, it’s short but packs a punch, also if you have a school library, this is a fabulous reference tool.

A fabulous book for exploring natural history with your children!

Prehistoric is published by What On Earth Books and more information is available here.

Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld is the award-winning author of more than seventy books for children.  She has written several books in the Let’s Read And Find Out Science series, including:  WHAT LIVES IN A SHELL?, an NSTA/CBC “Outstanding Science Trade Book” and winner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s “Best Children’s Book” award; WHAT IS THE WORLD MADE OF?, a Children’s Book of the Month Club Main Selection; WHAT’S ALIVE?, also named an AAAS “Best Children’s Book”;  HOW MOUNTAINS ARE MADE, an NSTA/CBC “Outstanding Science Trade Book,” DINOSAUR TRACKS, “a great choice for even the most discriminating dinophiles” (School Library Journal); and DINOSAURS BIG AND SMALL, winner of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio “Best Book Award”

Kathleen was a children’s book editor for over ten years before becoming a full-time writer.  When she is not reading, researching, writing, or editing she loves to spend her free time exploring, doing fieldwork, and preparing and curating fossils for her local natural history museums.  She lives in Berkeley, CA.

Julius Csotonyi

Julius Csotonyi is a freelance natural history illustrator and biological sciences graduate. His passion has been drawing dinosaurs since childhood, but over the years he has expanded his portfolio to include all branches of scientifically inspired artwork, and collaborated on projects with several major museums and book publishers from around the globe, including the National Geographic Society and the Royal Tyrrell Museum, working closely with scientists and drawing on his own scientific background. An MSc graduate of Ecology and Environmental Biology (University of Alberta), and a PhD graduate in microbiology (University of Manitoba), he has published scientific papers on mutualisms in Utah and unusual bacteria at alien-looking deep ocean hydrothermal volcanic vents. His scientific background has impelled him to strive to restore as realistically as possible the curiously alien environments that earth has hosted in its deep past. His style ranges from pencil and ink line drawings to watercolour, pastel, 2-dimensional digital illustrations and 3-dimensional digital models, and his work encompasses dinosaurs and other prehistoric life, sharks and other living animals, as well as some space art, fantasy and science fiction themes.

Reviewed by Ross Jeffery

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