Monday, July 10, 2017

Read 'n' Play: Dinosaur Storytime Kit

I currently have five storytime kits in circulation at our library. They're used by preschools but also by homeschoolers and families just looking for fun and educational experiences. A dinosaur kit was requested last year but it's taken me some time to get all the pieces together - and when I finally did, one of the books was too big and I had to get a bigger tub to hold it! I'll be posting more details on my Read 'n' Play blog when the kit is ready for circulation, but today I'm looking at two somewhat different nonfiction titles from Silver Dolphin that I'm including.

Explore a T. Rex is a title I selected because what I really wanted was a dinosaur skeleton and this was the closest I could get (without little pieces scattering all over the place!). The main feature of the book is a layered dinosaur skeleton embedded in the center of the book. Each page lifts off another layer. So the first spread covers general information about the t. rex and then explores the legs of its skeletal system. There is a pictorial comparison of a dinosaur, cheetah, and human leg which is very nicely done. Then this page lifts off the leg bones. The next spread covers the rib cage and discusses how dinosaurs and birds are related. Further pages cover the circulatory system, digestive system, reproductive system, nervous system, and muscular system. The last page has a plastic sort of outline that holds all the other pieces and, appropriately, discusses the skin. If you look at the back of the book you can see a more artistic rendition of the t. rex's skin.

The pieces are attached by little plastic clips (a note on the back of the book says not to remove them). The back "page" of the book is a thick, styrofoam board that holds the whole thing together and provides a space for the model to sit when the book is folded. It's a large size, a little over 12 inches (which is about half an inch too big for my regular tubs!). The text is arranged in small chunks around the central model figure and poses questions like "What was T. rex's posture like?" as well as more exclamatory titles such as "Born to run!" Staff and patrons who have gotten a glimpse of this book are eager to have a turn with it when it circulates!

The second title, Scanorama Dinosaurs was sent to me for review. This book is laid out in a long rectangle (about 13 x 8 inches). The introductory spread gives some general information about dinosaurs and introduces the book's interactive portion - an "x-ray scanner". There are four of these scan areas. They show a picture of the dinosaur and have a sliding section that reveals the outline of the skeletal system against a graph background as you move it across the picture. The rest of the book discusses the characteristics of different dinosaurs, mostly in an encylopedic manner with short chunks of text and statistics about different species. There are also a few lift-the-flaps scattered throughout the book.

I wasn't as enthusiastic about this title as I was about the T. Rex one I purchased. While I did like the text and illustrations, the hands-on portion of the book was disappointing. The sliding section does not feel sturdy and I am skeptical about how long it will last in little hands. The skeletons are easily visible even without the x-ray cover. There are sections below the picture highlighting different portions of the skeleton, but they don't always correspond to the pictures above them. I like the layout of the information and kids who love to obsess over dinosaur stats will devour this, but the interactive aspect didn't click for me.

Verdict: I'll be using both of these in my Dinosaur Storytime Kit and seeing how long they last. Silver Dolphin is a great resource if you are looking for kits or books with interactive elements for these kinds of kits. I didn't care for the Scanorama series, but I really like the Explore title and would look for more of those.

Explore a T. Rex by Dennis Schatz
ISBN: 9781626863958; Published 2016 by Silver Dolphin; Purchased for the library

Scanorama Dinosaurs by Anna Claybourne
ISBN: 9781626866300; Published 2016 by Silver Dolphin; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

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