GUIDE TO DINOSAURS. Dorling Kindersley pound;12.99. THE EXPLORER'S BOOK OF DINOSAURS. Two Can pound;7.99. THE CHILDREN'S DINOSAUR ENCYCLOPEDIA. Marshall Publishing pound;9.99
Anyone who argues that school-based education should be "relevant" should think carefully about dinosaurs. Few topics could be less relevant to life in the 21st century. Yet dinosaurs continue to fascinate learners of all ages.
The books in this colourful selection for teachers, parents and present-buyers all offer something slightly different. The Dorling Kindersley board books, in thick, robust card, adopt the shape of the different dinosaurs: T-Rex is long and thin with a scary cover; Stegosaurus is wide with a spiny cover. They use few words, but each short sentence works for its living (unlike, it would seem, one or two of the dinosaurs). Sentences such as "I don't have a big brain, but I'm not stupid" or "When it's hot my big bony plaes give out heat, helping to cool me" reflect the language level of this series. Each book ends with a parting shot from the animal in question with warnings such as "Forget plants! We like eating you". The excellent writing does as much to attract the reader as the illustrations, the shape and the feel of the books.
The three remaining titles, all well written and beautifully illustrated, are for a different audience. They are reference books rather than reading material, although children could enjoyably dip in and out of the Guide to Dinosaurs and The Explorer's Book, which takes more of a story-line approach and pitches its language at pupils rather than teachers.
The Children's Dinosaur Encyclopedia is full of all the information on dinosaurs that anyone (even a seven-year-old) could possibly want. It will be very handy for teachers to have on those occasions when someone a fifth of your age asks you a question that only Michael Benton, the consultant to two of these books, could possibly answer.