cover image Dinosaur Empire!

Dinosaur Empire!

Abby Howard. Amulet, $15.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2306-3

Howard, creator of the Junior Scientist Power Hour webcomic, ventures into children’s books with a highly entertaining (and equally informative) comic; first in the Earth Before Us series, it investigates the emergence and evolution of dinosaurs. After flunking a quiz on dinosaurs, Ronnie has the chance to retake it, and she gets unexpected help from her neighbor, anthropologist Miss Lernin, who whisks her away to the Mesozoic era via a TARDIS-like recycling bin. What follows is an information-dense but fast-moving exploration of how scientists have come to understand life in that period (dinosaurs, as well as mammals, insects, and sea life), clearly and amusingly explained through the duo’s dialogue. Smartly, Howard’s full-color cartoons (seen in b&w by PW) keep the visual details minimal, since much is still unknown about these creatures. Howard’s goal is to inform, but she doesn’t skimp on jokes (“Don’t you dare alter the course of history!” shouts Miss Lerner as Ronnie prepares to flatten the evolutionary predecessor of wasps and fire ants). A glossary and animal family tree conclude a tour of prehistoric animal life that’s impressive both for its scope and execution. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)