`Monsters' come to life in three dimensions

Smart Reading

April 07, 2006|By MARY BETH REGAN | MARY BETH REGAN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and other Sea Monsters

By Robert Sabuda & Matthew Reinhart

Candlewick Press/$27.99

Award-winning pop-up artists Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart are releasing the companion book to their fantastic, Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs, with an equally delightful read about sharks and underwater creatures from the ancient seas.

It's tough not to rave about these children's books. They are imaginative, interesting, well-written and just plain fun. In addition, the art comes alive, with three-dimensional dinosaurs and sharks leaping off the page to grab your attention. But the best part: They are scientifically accurate and can teach readers of any age a few things about prehistoric creatures.

Dinosaurs, one of Sabuda's first forays into science writing, spent more than 27 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list. It was a success, in part because it was so well-researched. The book did a good job of explaining the world's evolving view of these ancient creatures. For example, intricate pop-ups show readers how dinosaurs are divided into two groups based on hip structure. Lizard-hipped dinos have one hip pointed forward, one hip pointed back. Bird-hipped dinos have both hip bones pointed back toward their tails.

The second book, Sharks, is equally engaging. A center pop-up of a large prehistoric shark sits up on its tail and snaps at readers. The book calls sharks "the ultimate survivors," because they outlived the dinosaurs by millions of years. Their success is because of, at least in part, their exterior gill slits, sandpaper-like skin, skeletons made of cartilage and their amazing hunting abilities.

These books are marketed to the sandbox crowd. But don't kid yourself: There's enough information and fun in both volumes to warrant a read by any adult.

Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart will be in Washington, D.C., at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History on May 19 and 20. On May 19, they will hold a workshop for teachers. Information is available at 202-275-1476.

Mary Beth Regan

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