Dino Stories

Full-color photographs, illustrations and manageable chunks of information presented in large print make the Oxford First Book of Dinosaurs by Barbara Taylor a solid choice for aspiring paleontologists. Insets encourage children to "look closer" (e.g., a cutaway view of a bird-hipped vs. lizard-hipped dinosaur), while activities foster understanding. The volume closes with a "Dinosaur Detective Quiz," glossary, index and pronunciation guide. (Oxford, $19.95 48p ages 5-9 ISBN 0-19-521847-7; Jan.)

Die-cut pages give the feeling of peering through a historic portal in The Incredible Journey Through the World of the Dinosaurs by Nicholas Harris, illus. by Inklink Firenze. Each double-page spread highlights a different time period, beginning with "320 million years ago." Detailed illustrations are labeled to match the plants and animals discussed in the informative text. A glossary, index and suggestions for further reading complete the volume. (McGraw-Hill/Bedrick, $18.95 32p ages 8-up ISBN 0-87226-671-0; Nov.)

David Lambert's The Giant Dinosaur Book places the creatures in an environmental context and discusses evolutionary forces while describing the winged reptiles and ocean animals that were the dinosaurs' contemporaries. The author delves into the work of "fossil hunters" and modern-day paleontologists; a section on "Dinosaur Groups" categorizes the animals by historic period; and scale drawings compare their size with that of humans. An illustrated glossary and index round out the package. (Kingfisher, $14.95 96p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-7534-5421-1; Oct.)

The Kingfisher Illustrated Dinosaur Encyclopedia by David Burnie is comprehensive in scope. Full-color photographs and dramatic drawings illustrate the dense but clearly laid out text while a timeline running across the top of each page plants readers firmly along the continuum. A glossary and index are included along with a list of Web sites for further learning. (Kingfisher, $24.95 224p ages 8-up ISBN 0-7534-5287-1; Sept.)

Paul Barrett's National Geographic Dinosaurs, illus. by Raul Martín, catalogues more than 50 of the "terrible lizards." A "time bar" running along the outside of the page indicates the period for each particular dinosaur; a "Fact File" provides the animal's genus, classification, weight and measurements; and a graph compares the dino's size to humans. Other sections focus on the Mesozoic through the Cretaceous period, paleontology and dinosaur behavior. Over 300 full-color photographs and 90 photorealistic illustrations add dimension. (National Geographic, $29.95 192p ages 10-up ISBN 0-7922-8224-8; Oct.)

Dennis Nolan weaves real-life dino facts into Shadow of the Dinosaurs, a fictional account of a family camping trip turned prehistoric adventure. In this follow-up to Dinosaur Dreams, the titular Dachshund digs up an unusual bone. As his owner sleeps, Shadow is swept up into a world transformed. Throughout, Nolan names the dinosaurs the dog encounters while realistic illustrations depict their wanderings. Opening pages picture the prehistoric creatures' silhouettes labeled with their name, pronunciation and length. (S&S, $16 32p ages 5-8 ISBN 0-689-82974-4; Nov.)

Flapdoodle Dinosaurs by David A. Carter is just plain fun. Heavy black text stands out against the slick white background: "Who's inside the loaf of bread?" it asks. Children flip the plump loaf on the opposite page to find the vibrant "Tyrannosaurus Red" who has taken up residence. "Triceratops Pink" lives inside a pickle jar of "Grandma Gill's Pickled Dills." The entire dino line-up pops up on the final spread. (S&S/Little Simon, $15.95 16p all ages ISBN 0-689-84643-6; Oct.)

Sealed in a two-foot-long plastic bone, Elizabeth Carpenter's Dinomaze: Colossal Fossil Maze Book offers some 40 "anatomically correct" poster-size dinosaur drawings/mazes for youngsters to puzzle their way through. With a large trim size—18"×13 1/2"—there's lots on the tear-out page, including information about where the dino lived, what its name means and more. (Workman, $14.95 100p ages 5-up ISBN 0-7611-1275-8; Nov.)

International Offerings

Creation tales of Eskimo, Cherokee, Cree, and 10 other native cultures are retold in M.L. Webster's On the Trail Made of Dawn: Native American Creation Stories. Drawing on older texts and oral histories collected by the U.S. Government Bureau of American Ethnology, Webster introduces each story with a Native American saying. A brief history of the tribe from which the story springs is included at the end.(Linnet/Shoestring, $19.50 88p all ages ISBN 0-208-02497-2; Oct.)

Irma Molnár retells and translates 23 traditional stories, many revolving around clever riddles, in One-Time Dog Market at Buda and Other Hungarian Folktales, illus. by Georgeta-Elena Enesel. The collection opens with an historical overview of the country; each tale closes with a brief commentary on Hungarian culture. (Linnet/Shoestring, $25 144p all ages ISBN 0-208-02505-7; Nov.)

The Story Tree: Tales to Read Aloud by Hugh Lipton offers seven retellings from around the world. Some will be familiar to youngsters, such as the Norwegian "The Three Billy Goats Gruff." Others, such as "Little Lord Feather-Frock" from Russia and India's "Monkey-See, Monkey-Do," may be new. Lipton's text winds itself through Sophie Fatus's equally narrative illustrations, each with a different mood and palette. (Barefoot, $18.99 64p ages 4-7 ISBN 1-84148-312-5; Sept.)

"Four Naughty Boys," "The Dog Who Flattered a Cow" and "The Rajah Who Lost His Head" are among the 12 tales and myths included in Balinese Children's Favorite Stories, retold by Victoria Mason with Gillian Beal, illus. by Trina Bohan-Tyrie. Some, such as "The Saintly Stork" seem based on those of Aesop, the author explains, while others are "peculiarly Balinese." Much of the artwork captures the costume and breathtaking Bali setting. (Tuttle [617-951-4080], $16.95 96p ages 6-10 ISBN 962-593-440-5; Dec.)

Ten Small Tales: Stories from Around the World, retold by Celia Barker Lottridge, illus. by Joanne Fitzgerald, expands the nursery canon with a collection of globe-wide retellings. "The One-Turnip Garden" from Russia simplifies the classic tale of the gigantic turnip; the less familiar "Four Legs, Four Arms, One Head" is based on a Malaysian tale; and "The Magic Drum" derives from India. Fitzgerald's watercolors shift easily between humans and animals and retain the flavor of the cultures from which the tales originate. (Groundwood [PGW, dist.], $18.95 64p ages 2-8 ISBN 0-88899-156-8; Nov.)

Efraín of the Sonoran Desert: A Lizard's Life Among the Seri Indians by Amalia Astorga, Seri Indian Elder, as told to Gary Paul Nabhan, illus. by Janet K. Miller, recounts Nabhan's curiosity about how a lizard could thrive in lands where the Seri live but be considered endangered outside of that territory. A Seri elder explains the conundrum by way of the fable of Efraín, a sand-dwelling lizard. Naïf, folk-art style paintings capture the azure hues of the Sea of Cortez and the rich patterns and textures of Seri fabrics. (Cinco Puntos, $16.95 32p ages 7-10 ISBN 0-938317-55-5; Oct.)

Other Worlds

Suza Scalora follows up the bestselling The Fairies with The Witches and Wizards of Oberin. Front and back pages set the scene: a team of anthropologists discover a mysterious mountain cave in France. Soon after, the witches and wizards who used the cave as a gathering place abduct the noted Frenchman responsible for unlocking their secret mountain lair. Artful design, stunning photography and laminated pages combine to tell the stories of, among others, Orella, Enchantress of the Dawn, Lalezar, Witch of the Forests, and Maruk, Warrior Wizard. (HarperCollins/ Cotler, $19.95 48p all ages ISBN 0-06-029535-X; Oct.)

Colin Thompson's enigmatic artwork once again takes center stage in Falling Angels, the story of a girl who can fly. Sally thinks she's the only one who possesses this power but soon finds out her grandmother once flew, too. (Hutchinson [Trafalgar Sq., dist.], $16.95 32p ages 5-8 ISBN 0-09-176817-9; Oct.)

In The Haunted States of America: Haunted Houses and Spooky Places in All 50 States... and Canada, Too! Joan Holub tells of ghosts said to guard buried treasure in Arizona's Superstition Mountains; in California, the Winchester Mystery House, built by the wife of the heir to the Winchester rifle fortune, was designed with maze-like hallways, secret rooms, as well as stairs and doors "leading to nowhere" in an effort to elude the ghosts she thought were haunting her. (S&S/Aladdin, $4.99 paper 176p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-689-83911-1; Sept.)

An illuminating look at sleep and dreams, Sally Tagholm's The Complete Book of the Night covers seasonal evening celebrations across the globe, plants and animals that come alive at night, and "natural fireworks," such as the Northern Lights and shooting stars. (Kingfisher, $18.95 96p ages 8-up ISBN 0-7534-5323-1; Sept.)

Welcome Back!

A classic comes out of hibernation—and an illustrated bear comes to life—in Martha Alexander's We're in Big Trouble, Blackboard Bear (1980). In this addition to the newly reillustrated, reissued series, the boy must teach his chalk-drawn bear a lesson when it confesses to sneaking out at night to steal blueberries, a jar of honey and goldfish from the local children. (Candlewick, $10.99 40p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-7636-0670-7; Nov.)

Originally published in 1965, Ann Likes Red by Dorothy Z. Seymour uses 16 simple words to tell the story of an independent girl determined to suit up in her favorite color. " 'A blue dress, Ann?'/ 'I like red,' said Ann./ Red! Red! Red!/ 'A red dress instead,' said Ann." Nancy Meyerhoff's b&w (and red) line drawings retain their 60s style with universal appeal. (Purple House [817-428-6300], $8.95 28p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-930900-12-0; Oct.)

There's No Such Thing as a Dragon (1975) by Jack Kent, part of the Family Storytime series, relates the charming tale of Billy Bixbee, who awakens to find a dragon "about the size of a kitten" sitting on his bed. The dragon grows by leaps and bounds, until Billy dares to pet the attention-seeking creature and it shrinks back down into an adoring little lap dragon. (Golden, $9.95 40p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-307-10214-9; Oct.)

When an unprincipled pirate alights on a pink island, he forms an unlikely alliance with a lonely Yellow Creature in Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor (1939) by Mervyn Peake. Intricate line drawings of the motley crew—"Jonas Joints, the first mate," "Charlie Choke" and "Peter Poop" the cook among them—share quarters with his hand-lettered text. (Candlewick, $16.99 48p ages 7-up ISBN 0-7636-1625-7; Nov.)

Mighty giants meet a down-to-earth boy in the 1972 Christopher Award—winning The Book of Giant Stories by David L. Harrison, illus. by Philippe Fix. In each of the three tales, the villains end up overshadowed by good sense and practical wisdom. Fix creates a forbidding landscape of craggy trees, fern-filled forests and darkened lairs. (Boyds Mills, $17.95 40p ages 6-10 ISBN 1-56397-976-4; Oct.)

Royals, witches, enchanted pigs, mermaids, wolves and mortals star in the 13 radiant stories included in Shadows and Moonshine by Joan Aiken, illus. by Pamela Johnson, gleaned from a trio of the author's earlier collections. The settings and plots are as varied and imaginative as the characters. In "The Gift Pig," for instance, a spell turns a princess and her friend into pigs and the two are "packed off (in hampers)" to finishing school. Aiken is equally adept at conveying the poignant as the preposterous, as evidenced in "Moonshine in the Mustard Pot," and her dry, at times acerbic wit surfaces in "Cat's Cradle," featuring a mean-spirited young woman who tries to snare the suitor of her deceased sister. (Godine, $18.95 192p ages 8-12 ISBN 1-56792-167-1; Jan.)

Aiken's 1968 collection of eight tales, A Necklace of Raindrops and Other Stories, infused with magic (such as flying carpets, an oversize cat and a house that rests "on one leg") returns with more than 60 new b&w illustrations by Kevin Hawkes. (Knopf, $15.95 96p ages 6-10 ISBN 0-375-80584-2; Oct.)

Frédéric Clément's The Merchant of Marvels and the Peddler of Dreams (1995), trans. by Emma Cole, the tale of Frederick Knick-Knack and his quest for the perfect birthday gift for the friend who has everything, returns. Creamy, heavyweight pages absorb poetically arranged text alongside photos of a feather in a box, foil-wrapped candies and a tiny drawing of "three scarlet shrimp from the Outer West Indies." (Chronicle, $16.95 64p all ages ISBN 0-8118-3294-5; Dec.)

Great-grandson of James, Paul Fenimore Cooper tells the story of an orphaned boy's fantastical journey in Tal, His Marvelous Adventures with Noom-Zor-Noom. A foreword by Paul Cooper's nephew notes that Paul Cooper was a contemporary of A.A. Milne, Hugh Lofting and L. Frank Baum and that Tal, published in 1929, enjoyed modest success. Gorgeous b&w woodcuts by Ruth Reeves illustrate the text. (Purple House [817-428-6300], $20 320p ages 8-12 ISBN 1-930900-08-2; Oct.)