Children's Books

Dinosaur Ghosts: The Mystery of Coelophysis

by J. Lynett Gillette, illustrated by Douglas Henderson
New York: Dial, 1997. 32 pages.

Science comes alive in Lynett Gillette's story of the remarkable discovery of fossils at Ghost Ranch, where, 225 million years ago, hundreds of Coelophysis dinosaurs perished "in a tangle of necks, tails, arms, and legs." What catastrophe caused their death and burial? In considering the various scenarios — volcano? flood? poisoned water? asteroid? — Gillette painlessly introduces young readers to the scientific method. Profusely illustrated, with haunting paintings by Douglas Henderson.

The Little Giant Book of Dinosaurs

by Thomas R. Holtz Jr.
New York: Sterling Publishing, 2001. 352 pages.

As The Little Giant Book of Dinosaurs reminds us in its opening words, "There was a time when nobody knew about dinosaurs." Aided by Terry Riley's numerous black-and-white illustrations, Thomas R. Holtz carefully and concisely explains how the dinosaurs were discovered, what we know about them, where they came from, and where they went. The book includes a useful glossary as well as lists of dinosaurs by epoch and by location. The author, who teaches at the University of Maryland, College Park, is a member of NCSE.

Ice Age Mammals of North America: A Guide to the Big, the Hairy, and the Bizarre

by Ian Lange
Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2002. 224 pages.

The time is the Pleistocene epoch, about 2 million to 10,000 years ago. Continent-size ice sheets cover 30 percent of the earth's landmass, and strange creatures rove the landscape. Ice Age Mammals of North America transports you to the world of saber-tooth cats, woolly mammoths, four-hundred-pound beavers, and twenty-foot-tall ground sloths. The book opens with an overview of the geologic events that led to the Pleistocene epoch and explores possible causes for the ice ages.

Our Family Tree

by Lisa Westberg Peters
San Diego: Harcourt Children's Books, 2003. 48 pages.

Charmingly illustrated by Lauren Stringer, Our Family Tree is the perfect picture book about evolution for children ages 4-8 (supplemented with explanations, a handful of references, and a timeline for their adult friends). Reviewing Our Family Tree in RNCSE, Lisa M. Blank recommends the book to "[p]arents and teachers struggling for an intellectually honest and yet engaging approach for answering young children's questions about how life began." And Ernst Mayr wrote, "If we do not understand evolution, we will never understand our world.

Darwin and Evolution for Kids

by Kristin Lawson
Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2003. 160 pages.

In Darwin and Evolution for Kids, Lawson provides a biography of Darwin combined with a sketch of his ideas and their development, along with "engaging and fun activities where children can: make their own fossils using clay, seashells, and plaster; keep field notes as backyard naturalists; investigate whether acquired traits are passed along to future generations; explore the adaptive strategies plants have developed to distribute seeds; observe how carnivorous plants trap and devour their prey; go on a botanical treasure hunt." Darwin and Evolution for Kids was sele

Stones & Bones

by Char Matejovsky, illustrated by Robaire Ream
Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge Press, 2007. 28 pages.

From the publisher: "Beautifully illustrated in full color, Stones & Bones sketches the story of evolution in seventeen verses. Through words and illustrations readers will find answers to questions such as, when did the Age of Mammals begin and what is it called? When did the first horses appear on earth? The first whales? What is the name and date of Darwin's revolutionary book on evolution? When did the earth begin to form? And many more." NCSE's Eugenie C.


by Thomas R. Holtz Jr.
New York: Random House, 2007. 427 pages.

Billed as "the most complete, up-to-date encyclopedia for dinosaur lovers of all ages," Thomas R. Holtz Jr.'s Dinosaurs brings together contributions from thirty-three of the world's leading paleontologists (including the president of NCSE's board of directors, Kevin Padian), spectacular illustrations by Luis V. Rey, and Holtz's own enthusiastic and informative text. The jacket copy proclaims, "This is not your mother's dinosaur book.

The Sandwalk Adventures

by Jay Hosler
Columbus, OH: Active Synapse, 2002. 159 pages.

A delightful graphic novel, in which Charles Darwin himself explains the rudiments of deep time, common ancestry, and natural selection to Mara, a winsome befreckled adolescent who just happens to live in Darwin's left eyebrow — she is, after all, a follicle mite.