Giant Dinosaurs of the Jurassic is a children’s book for kids in third to fifth grade or, in my opinion, a little younger. Certainly this is an excellent choice, because of the cool illustrations, of a book to read aloud to the pre-literate little ones.
Author Gregory Wenzel does a good job in few words explaining life in the Jurassic, how bones get to become fossils, and something about how they are found. Most of the riveting several hundred words in this 32 page book are about the real stars of the show, the dinosaurs themselves.
Not every single dinosaur in this book is truly giant, but they are all truly interesting (how could you not be if you are a dinosaur???) And, actually, they are not all dinosaurs (there are turtles and flying reptiles and such as well).
The single best thing about this book is that the dinosaurs and other things (including features of the landscape) are reconstructed from a single geological formation, mainly from two specific sites, in the Western US. The Morrison Formation yields enough information to have a rich and detailed story about dinosaurs, but at the same time, linking the story to this specific location … where actual dinosaur bones have been found and studied … makes this children’s book a bit of subversive literature. It fixes in the minds of the little ones who may read it or have it read to them the idea that there is actual physical evidence for the prior existence of these extinct species.
The same author also gives us Feathered Dinosaurs of China (Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 (Awards)). This book is for a similar age child but deals with a different age of dinosaurs (more Cretaceous than Jurassic).
Wenzel makes the bird-dinosaur link, talks more about fossil formation, and of course, provides numerous cool facts about the animals themselves in a lively narrative.
In all cases, Wenzel’s acrylic depictions of the dinosaurs are excellent if often speculative, as they should be, and will entertain and inspire at least a few of the next generation of paleontologists.
I recommend both, though 17 bucks is a lot for a kids book that is going to be drooled on and eaten by the dog, etc. Buy one, show it admiringly to grandma or grandpa, and get the other one as a birthday present. But seriously, either book (or both) is an excellent give for that friend who has a kid and is looking for more science in the child’s literary life.