There is something particularly fascinating about dinosaurs and dinosaur art. Here are the dragons and monsters of myth and story, but actually real — science with all the dazzle and mystery of fantasy.
Those of us who remember a fascination with dinosaurs as children, whether or not we have been fortunate enough to keep it as adults, will recognize particular dinosaur books as “Wow!” books.
These are the kind of dinosaur books that are so spectacular they make kids’ eyes bug out of their heads and cause them to produce involuntary exclamations like “Woah!” and “Cool!” as they grip the book, nose to the pages, in absolute fascination.
Discovering Dinosaurs, a new dinosaur book by the highly regarded paleo art team of Bob Walters and Tess Kssinger, is one of those books — a dinosaur “Wow!” book.
The book is huge — physically big in size at over 10 x 13 inches, hugely entertaining and hugely informative. It’s loaded with information on over 160 fascinating and bizarre dinosaurs, arranged by period and family, with page after page of striking images, lots of two page spreads and three huge triple-page fold out banners.
Publisher Cider Mill Press has done an amazing job. The book design is beautiful and well thought out, and the book is rich with wonderful details, from the dinosaur-pattern end papers, to the foldouts, to the cover — which is, well, cool. The images I’ve been able to provide here don’t convey it, but the scales on the cover are actually physical bumps. Pick up the book and you can feel the scale texture on the front and back covers. In addition, the eyes and horns of the dinosaur, along with the title text, are glossy with spot-varnish, lending even more punch to the image. Somehow, they managed to price this thing, all 140+ pages of it, at $25.00.
One of the things I particularly like about Walters’ work, which I’ve written about previously, is that I know he is one of the relatively small percentage of paleo artists who makes a point of working with paleontologists who are also anatomists (which many paleontologists are not). Despite the dramatic appeal of his striking and detailed renderings, they are mercifully free of paleo-fantasy like enormous sauropods standing on their hind legs, or multi-ton tyrannosaurs running at a gallop. (These things are fine in fantasy art, but not appropriate for books that are supposed to be scientifically accurate.)
In addition to holding fast to scientific accuracy, the book is very up to date, with lots of the latest dinosaur discoveries and information. Game of Thrones author Geroge R.R. Martin gave Discovering Dinosaurs a nice plug in his blog.
The big, immersive pages and images, succinctly informative text and fun touches make Discovering Dinosaurs the kind of dinosaur book that would have had 12 year old me curled up on the couch for hours, learning my brains out and involuntarily exclaiming “Woah!” and “Cool!”
You can see more on the Discovering Dinosaurs website.
Discovering Dinosaurs can be ordered from Amazon and other online booksellers, or, if you’re fortunate enough to have one, from your local independent bookstore.