Sunday, May 17, 2015

My 9th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a great book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-"My 1st Pair of Reviews":
-"My 2nd Pair of Reviews":
-"My 3rd Pair of Reviews":
-"My 4th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 5th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 6th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 7th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 8th Pair of Reviews":

The best popular baby dino books, part 1 ( ): 5/5

Short version: As far as I know, there aren't any popular adult books about baby dinos (book chapters, yes, but not whole books). Therefore, Bakker's "Dino Babies!" (henceforth DB) is 1) the best baby dino book for younger kids, & 2) 1 of the best popular baby dino books period.

Long version: Read on.

Many popular baby dino books are OK, but not great. There are 3 main reasons for why I think that is: 1) They're mixed bags in terms of paleoart (Quoting Miller: "I bought the book expecting a more technical discussion of the animals discussed therein...but was surprised to find beautiful paintings of questionably-restored dinosaurs"); 2) They're confusing messes in terms of organization; 3) They fail to cover many baby dino-related subjects & those that are covered are done so in an insufficient manner (I.e. Sometimes, they simplify things to the point of being meaningless; Other times, they're just plain wrong). In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think DB succeeds where said books fail.

1) As expected for a Bakker book, DB is very well-illustrated: Rey's digital paleoart, while overall not as good as his traditional paleoart, is still some of the best paleoart around;* In fact, in some ways, it's even better; Rey's "Ancestor dreaming" on page 23 is an especially good example of how symbolic & surreal his digital paleoart can be ( ).

2) As expected for a Bakker book, DB is very well-organized: Pages 1-23 begin with a question ("Were dinosaurs good parents?"), continue with descriptions of 1) the ways in which living animals care for their young, & 2) the ways in which dinos did so, & end with a reminder ("Modern-day birds are descendants of raptors. When you watch a mom or dad eagle feeding its babies, you are seeing a living Deinonychus!"); Said descriptions are arranged in roughly chronological order (I.e. 1st Jurassic dinos, then Cretaceous dinos).

3) As expected for a Bakker book, DB is very complete & concise: For 1 (in reference to "complete"), using Holtz's "Dinosaurs" as a guide, DB features representatives of 9 different dino groups; Compare that to the 6 different dino groups of Judge's "Born to Be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World"; For another (in reference to "concise"), see the Bakker quote; DB does in 2 pages what takes Judge's book 4 pages to do. Pages 21-22 are an especially good example of the former because of the brooding Deinonychus specimen (I.e. AMNH 3015, which is often not mentioned in popular dino books; Google "A possible egg of the dromaeosaur Deinonychus antirrhopus" for more info). My only gripe is the lack of early dinos.

*Don't take my word for it, though. Google "2008 (Lanzendorf PaleoArt Prize) Luis V. Rey" & see for yourself.
Quoting Bakker: "Today, ostrich dads are great babysitters. They'll guard up to forty chicks at once.
Psittacosaurus...was a dinosaur babysitter. The adult was the size of a big chicken. Three dozen baby Psittacosaurus were found in Mongolia, all crowded crowded around just one adult. Maybe it was Mom. Maybe it was Dad. Either way, he or she had a tough job!
Psittacosaurus ate leaves, roots, and bugs. And lots of plants and bugs are poisonous. The babies probably watched what Mom or Dad ate. That way, they learned what to eat and what to avoid."

Not nearly as good as they say ( ): 2/5

Short version: If you want the best encyclopedic dino book for casual readers, get Holtz's "Dinosaurs". Despite the other Amazon Reviews, Burnie's "The Kingfisher Illustrated Dinosaur Encyclopedia" (henceforth Kingfisher) was never the best or even just decent in its own right.

Long version: Read on.

As you may have noticed, I usually review non-fiction dino books that either don't get enough praise for being good or don't get enough criticism for being bad. What's interesting about Kingfisher is that it got praised for things that other books got criticized for. There's a lot I could criticize about Kingfisher, but for the purposes of this review, I'll focus on the 3 major things that it got praised for.*

1) The other Amazon Reviewers praised Kingfisher for the seemingly-chronological order (E.g. "[Kingfisher] is arranged in a chronological order giving copious attention to dinosaur habits and habitats"). In actuality, the dino-related chapters are arranged in no particular order (See pages 71-168 for what I mean: ).

2) The other Amazon Reviewers praised Kingfisher for the seemingly-up-to-date info (E.g. "I found this book to be up-to-date on a lot of information and is and outstanding guide to dinosaur life and times"). In actuality, there's an average of at least 1 factual error per page in Kingfisher, a 224 page book (See SpongeBobFossilPants' "Things I Learnt From A 2001 Encyclopedia: Redux" for all the dino-related examples: ).

3) The other Amazon Reviewers praised Kingfisher for the seemingly-accurate illustrations (E.g. "All the illustrations are accurate unlike "Dinosaurus" by Parker and Gee's "A Field Guide to Dinosaurs". Only Raul Martin's illustrations in "National Geographic Dinosaur" are of equal quality"). In actuality, those by Sibbick are outdated to varying degrees, while those by various illustrators are shameless rip-offs of more famous illustrations (E.g. All the dinos on pages 98-99 are shameless rip-offs of Sibbick's "Normanpedia" illustrations), just plain abominable (E.g. See the cover, which looks more like an "American Godzilla Puppet" than any known dino), or some combination of both (E.g. The Barosaurus on pages 80-81 is both a shameless rip-off of Sibbick's Ultrasauros on pages 82-83 & a "freaky giraffoid").**

*I'm specifically referring to the facts that 1) less than half of this so-called "Dinosaur Encyclopedia" (I.e. 98 pages out of 224) is about dinos, & 2) it's claimed that it's "undoubtedly the most to the world of these amazing creatures" on the 1st inside flap despite the fact that Burnie is neither an expert nor even a collaborator with experts.

**Google "Vintage Dinosaur Art: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs" & "The freaky giraffoid Barosaurus meme" for "Normanpedia" & "freaky giraffoid", respectively.