I found myself reminded of Titanic, of all things, by this early reader (HarperCollins, 5/06) by paleontologist Charlotte Lewis Brown and illustrator Phil Wilson. The thing I remember most about James Cameron’s movie is the surprising variety of ways that characters met their doom, and that’s how I felt while reading this account of what “may have happened” moments before and months after an asteroid or comet slammed into the earth 65 million years ago.

Dinosaurs get eaten, consumed by a fireball, crushed by trees, pelted by burning rocks, washed away by tidal waves, and so on. This is easily the most violent early reader I’ve ever encountered, and the scariest, too. It’s also a vivid, accessible account of a crucial piece of the history of this planet. What’s more, it’s surprisingly affecting — Brown’s reimagining of the momentous event zeroes in on individual dinosaurs, and without anthopomorphizing them she does makes the reader care about these creatures and their terrible fates.

In fact, she does such a good job that readers may be tempted (presumably in opposition to their own self-interest) to boo and hiss at the end when mammals emerge from their burrows to take over the planet. Or maybe they’ll just want to flip back to the beginning of the book, when the dinosaurs still — for the briefest bit longer — ruled the roost.


Other blog posts on The Day the Dinosaurs Died:
Bookview: Review: The Day the Dinosaurs Died (an I Can Read book)