Cover of Little Treasure of Dinosaurs (5 vols.)
Book 434 Biology 1989
The Complete Science Fair Handbook The New Hugo Winners
A mule
Asimov fan
A mule
Target reader

Discover the fascinating and exciting world of dinosaurs in five beautifully illustrated sturdy board books that tell you all about:

Giant Dinosaurs • Armored Dinosaurs • Small Dinosaurs • Sea Reptiles and Flying Reptiles • Meat-Eating Dinosaurs and Horned Dinosaurs

Board books?! BOARD BOOKS‽‽

Perhaps I should explain. If you’ve got very young children in the house—young enough that they’re still putting everything into their mouths as part of figuring out what will kill them and what won’t—and you want to build up a positive association in their minds with books, you read them board books. These are small and colorful and basically painted on rather thickish cardboard and not paper. It’s the sort of thing that can survive repeated encounters with baby saliva and come through unscathed.

Note that I say, “Very young children.”

So what the golly gosh darn heck was the publisher thinking here? This is a set of five books which makes absolutely no sense at all—and are poorly illustrated, to boot. Five pathetic little board books for goodness sake, each eight (count them, eight!) pages long.

And is the text appropriate for the kind of child who reads board books—or, more accurately, who has board books read to them? No, not on your life. I quote:

“About 70 million years ago triceratops (try-SER-uh-tops), the largest of the horned dinosaurs, developed. This plant-eater was quite large—about 30 feet long—and weighed about 6 tons, or 12,000 pounds. It had a large head with a bony fill that extended back over the neck for protection. The frill was its main armor.”

Now I quote from Oh My, Oh My, Oh Dinosaurs by Sandra Boynton, another board book on the subject of dinosaurs still lurking about our house:

“Dinosaurs big, and dinosaurs small. Dinosaurs short, and dinosaurs tall.”

Which, prithee, would you read to your two-year-old?


(And those of you with rugrats in your immediate future, go ahead and start stocking up on board books by Sandra Boynton. They’re worth it.)

Nor is the information as accurate as it might be. It fails my beautiful, brunette, brown-eyed daughter’s acid test of worthiness for a book about dinosaurs—it talks about “brontosaurus” instead of “apatosaurus,” among other failings.

This set is a total waste of—er, cardboard.

Now, it should point out this is not Asimov’s fault. What he originally wrote was about a third longer, consisting of eight chapters or sections about ancient animals (Sea Reptiles, Mammal-like Reptiles, Giant Reptiles, Armored Dinosaurs, Small Dinosaurs, Flying Reptiles, Meat-Eating Dinosaurs, and Horned Dinosaurs). There’s no indication in the original manuscript that Asimov intended it to be stripped down and packaged as board books. If the whole had been decently illustrated and published as a single book aimed at six-year-olds, it would be fine (ignoring my daughter’s stringent standards for paleontological literature); but as it is, is one of the worst done of all of Asimov’s published books.

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