About the Holiday
Read a New Book Month couldn’t come at a better time than during the gift-giving season. Books make gifts that have long-lasting appeal and can seem “new” with every reading or provide comfort, laughs, and joy that never gets old. Today I review two pop-up books for the younger set that adults will enjoy sharing as much as the kids will love hearing—and seeing—them.
I’d like to thank Twirl Books and Barbara Fisch at Blue Slip Media for sharing Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures and The Pop-Up Guide: Animals with me for review consideration. All opinions on the books are my own.
Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures
Written by Arnaud Roi | Illustrated by Charlotte Molas
If you’d like to see your child’s eyes pop open in delight each time they open a particular book and you have a child who loves dinosaurs, then Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures is the book for them! This easy-to-hold book opens upward to provide “Wow!”-inducing reactions to seven awesome dinosaurs three reptiles that kids may recognize as early ancestors to some of today’s land and ocean-dwelling animals—fierce and not so.
With the lift of the first page, kids come face to face with a giant Argentinosaurus who’s foraging among the foliage to satisfy its daily 880-pound dietary requirement. How did these herbivores digest all of those leaves, ferns, grasses, and other plants? They “also swallowed rocks, which helped grind up the food in its stomach.” Readers also discover the period during which these dinosaurs lived, the region they were found in, their maximum size and their maximum weight. All measurements are given in feet and pounds as well as meters and kilograms.
Other dinosaurs that come out to meet young paleontologists include the Spinosaurus—who, at “over 49 feet (15 meters) long and 13 feet (4 meters) tall” with a maximum weight of 20,000 pounds (9,000 kilograms) “was the largest known carnivore on land. The most distinctive feature of this popular dino was the sail on its back, which measured “almost 7 feet (2.1 meters) tall” in itself! Kids will also enjoy saying hello to the baby Triceratops that appears to be walking right off the page! Standing nearby is a watchful mom or dad ready to protect their little one. Readers will learn that “Triceratops lived in herds” and when threatened “they would form a circle around their young and face the predator with their horns.”
Of course, the Tyrannosaurus pops up to eat and greet with his fierce “banana-shaped teeth that could grow up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) long.” This 20,000-pound behemoth may have roamed North America 68 million years ago, but it had a surprising connection to today’s crocodiles. Kids will also learn about two herbivores— one with claws more than 3 feet (1 meter) long, and one with a very tiny brain but very intimidating spikes to keep predators at bay—and the largest raptor ever found. The prehistoric reptiles represented here plied the land, sea, and air and were no less impressive than the dinosaurs they shared the earth with.
Arnaud Roi describes each dinosaur and prehistoric creature in engaging language accessible for even the youngest reader and sprinkles in the kinds of facts about the animals’ anatomy, preferred habitat, diet, and physical prowess that make kids’ eyes widen and spur them to learn more. Roi brings the same enthusiasm and feeling of amazement to his subject that kids feel themselves, making this a book readers will really connect with.
In her three-dimensional illustrations, Charlotte Molas puts the dinosaurs front and center while including images of the environments they called home. You can bet kids will love opening, closing, and reopening the pages to interact with the dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures, complete with roars, stomps, chomps, and shrieks.
With a thick padded board cover and sturdy pages, plus eye-popping illustrations and text that’s just right for young learners, Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures is a top choice for dinosaur and science lovers. The book would make a terrific gift and take-along and is highly recommended for home, school, and public library collections.
Ages 3 – 5
Twirl, 2022 | ISBN 978-2408037512
You can find Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures at these booksellers
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The Pop-Up Guide: Animals
Written by Maud Poulain | Illustrated by Peggy Nille
The fourth book in this well-conceived series that includes Pop-Up Guides to Space, Vehicles, and Natural Wonders takes children around the world to meet the animals that live in ten different environments. Upon opening the book kids find themselves in the African Savanna, where a hippopotamus, three flamingos, and three lions have gathered for a drink. A crocodile suns itself on the bank, while another pokes its head above the water. A cheetah, lounging on a tree branch, also pops out to say hello. Behind them, a zebra, giraffes, gazelle, and mother and baby elephants roam and find food.
In her short paragraph, Maud Poulain tells readers about the African Savanna while also setting up talking points about the illustration: “It stays warm all year round here, with just two seasons: wet and dry. During the wet season, the animals have fresh grass and plenty of water to drink at the watering holes. In the dry season, many creatures may have to travel in search of food and water.” In addition to enjoying the vibrant illustration, adults and kids can talk about which time of year it is and how they know to identifying all of the animals and their particular attributes. Each animal is also labeled on the page.
With the lift of the page, children then enter the temperate Forest, where “trees, shrubs, herbs, and mosses provide shelter and food for all kinds of animals.” Little ones will be “aww!” struck by the cute rabbits, fawn and mother deer, and baby wild boars greet them. A pheasant takes to the air, while a tawny owl and a squirrel hang out in an oak tree. Colorful butterflies flit among flowers, and a pinecone lies hidden, just waiting to be discovered.
The vast expanse of snowy white meets readers next, along with the polar bears, little auks, ringed seals, caribou, orcas, and snowy owls that live in the Far North. There’s even someone riding a sled pulled by sled dogs making their way over the hills. Leaving the glittering snow, readers enter the eye-popping lushness of the Rain Forest, where vivid blues, oranges, greens, yellows, and reds are on display on the birds, chameleon, poison dart frog, tiger, boa, orangutans, and the thick vegetation will wow kids.
The fish, rays, mammals, and coral of the Ocean swim by up close for kids, and then it’s off to the driest areas of the world—the Desert. In the African desert, “it almost never rains…and while it is hot during the day, it can get cold at night. From there, readers get to know the birds, animals, and amphibians that call Freshwater Rivers home, then it’s back up into the mountains, which are warm and welcoming during spring and summer but can be snow-covered in late fall and winter. How do the animals and birds survive these opposing environments? Readers witness the ptarmigan, “whose fur and feathers change from brown to white” in snowy conditions in transition, while the snowshoe hare nearby has already become fully white.
Readers finish their tour of the world’s various environments with a dive into the Tropical Seas, where they can see a large array of creatures—from a clown fish, seahorse, and sea turtle to a porcupine fish, sea urchin, sea star, and more—all in bright colors and on the move in their warm-water paradise. But nature’s bounty is not reserved just for these magnificent habitats. The simple backyard also teems with life, and kids get to spend some time with a little girl and her cat as they sit on the porch as life hums around her.
In her informative paragraphs—which are written in easy-to-understand language and are the perfect length for young children—Maud Poulain introduces readers to an impressive array of the world’s animals while also imparting facts and tidbits about their habits, anatomy, diet, and other attributes that make them well-adapted to their environment. She also reveals details about the plants and weather conditions of each unique region. Every animal is labeled on the page, allowing kids to play and “I-spy” game as the adult reads the text.
Peggy Nille realistically depicts each animal while giving them personalities that will charm young readers and draw them into learning about their lives and habitats. Eye-catching colors and beautifully detailed dioramas make each pop-out page one that kids will want to linger over. Their time will be rewarded with enchanting finds tucked here and there and plenty of nature’s gifts to talk about.
This well-constructed book has a thick cardboard cover with elastic bands on the top corners that can be placed around each page as the book is read to keep it upright for easy viewing or wrapped around the back cover to keep the book closed. The pop-ups, made from sturdy card stock, provide a depth of perspective that enhances the reading experience.
For young readers who are just learning about animals and for those who are ready to discover more about the world’s habitats and the animals that live in each, The Pop-Up Guide: Animals is a book they’ll want to read again and again. It would enhance any child’s home library and is highly recommended for school and public library collections.
Ages 3 – 5
Twirl, 2022 | ISBN 979-1036345166
You can find The Pop-Up Guide: Animals at these booksellers
To support your local independent bookstore, order from
Picture Book Review