Sunday, November 15, 2015

My 12th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a very good book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-My 1st-10th Pairs of Reviews:
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews":

This book should have more reviews ( ): 4/5

Whenever I read Schlein's "The Puzzle of the Dinosaur-bird: The Story of Archaeopteryx" (henceforth Puzzle), I wonder why it doesn't have more reviews? I wonder because Puzzle is 1 of the best pre-Sinosauropteryx dino-bird books for older kids.* In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think that is.

1) Puzzle is very authoritative: Not only is it consulted by Dr. John Ostrom, but also contributed to by Gregory Paul & Nicholas Hotton III; To quote Taylor ( ), "those are big guns firing."

2) Puzzle is very complete & concise: Not only does it cover the history of "the dinosaur-bird connection" from the 1860s to the 1970s, the Protoavis Controversy, the Chinese feathered dinos (I.e. Sinornis & Confusiusornis), & every Archaeopteryx specimen then known, but it does so in 40 pages; Most dino books for older kids are at least 48 pages.

3) Puzzle is very well-illustrated: The beautiful paleoart of Hallett is worth the price alone; The diagrams & reconstructions in particular are both very nostalgic & very prescient.**

At this point, you may be wondering why only 4/5 stars? For 1, there's too much Linnaean taxonomy (I.e. See the Holtz quote; Puzzle beats the dead horse that is "that debate"). For another, there's not enough cladistics (I.e. There are no cladograms in Puzzle; This is despite the fact that clades "are central to a modern understanding of how we living things relate to each other": ). Even still, I recommend reading Puzzle in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs").

*By "dino-bird books", I mean books about "the dinosaur-bird connection".

**Nostalgic because they're "Zoobooks" magazine-esque. Prescient because all the non-tyrannosaurid coelurosaurs are thickly plumaged.
Quoting Holtz (See GSPaul's "The Scientific American Book of Dinosaurs"): "In the 1970s through the mid-1980s, there was some debate among paleontologists over whether dinosaurs should be considered reptiles. That debate did not concern a difference of opinion as to the position of dinosaurs in the family tree of vertebrates. It instead centered on the debate over dinosaurs' physiology: Were dinosaurs cold-blooded, like "reptiles" (as the term was used then) or were they warm-blooded, like their descendants the birds? To most paleontologists today, dinosaurs are considered a type of reptile, and birds are considered a type of reptile. This shift has occurred because of the way biologists use their formal taxonomic names...Once scientists accepted that monophyletic groups would be the only type used in taxonomy, the debate whether dinosaurs were reptiles was over. The name Reptilia now applies to a particular branch of the family tree of the vertebrates, not to some general "grade" of development (that is, cold-blooded terrestrial vertebrates with a shelled egg). Since dinosaurs are part of that branch, whether they were cold-blooded or warmblooded is not a consideration in their classification: they are reptiles."

1 of the worst edutainment adaptations ( ): 2/5

As you may remember, I said that "The Magic School Bus" show isn't the worst edutainment adaptation ( ). That's because "The Magic School Bus Scholastic Reader Level 2" books based on the show are even worse. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think Schwabacher's "The Magic School Bus Flies with the Dinosaurs" (henceforth Magic) in particular is that bad.

1) Magic's text is lacking in both quantity & quality. This is especially apparent in the reports: For 1 (in reference to quantity), there's only 1 report for every 5 pages of Magic; Compare that to the 1 report for every 2 pages of Cole's "The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs"; For another (in reference to quality), compare the Schwabacher quote to the Cole quote; The former is a needlessly dumbed down version of the latter.

2) Magic's reconstructions are shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions, just plain outdated/abominable, or some combination of both. This is especially apparent in the T.rex & the Sinornithosaurus: Not only is the former based on Osborn's T.rex from 1916 ( ), but its face looks like Jeff the Killer's face;* Not only is the latter a shameless rip-off, but it's a shameless rip-off of Groves' abominable model of Sinornithosaurus (See the cover of Sloan's "How Dinosaurs Took Flight: The Fossils, the Science, What We Think We Know, and Mysteries Yet Unsolved").

To sum up, I recommend reading Cole's "The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs" in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs"). All the non-Cole "Magic School Bus" books (especially those about dinos) should be avoided.

*If you google "Jeff the Killer", don't do it at night.
Quoting Schwabacher: "THE STORY OF FOSSILS by Arnold
After millions of years, the ashes turned to rock. The dinosaur bones turned to rock, too. Now they are called fossils. People find the fossils and learn about dinosaurs."
1. The dead body sank in a river, and rotted away.
2. The bones were covered with sand.
3. In time, the sand turned into rocks.
4. The bones became hard as rock, too."