This just released book takes the young reader back in time to when a pack of Deinonychus (a.k.a. "raptor") dinosaurs roamed. The author, Robert T. Bakker is one of the worlds best known dinosaur paleontologists and he is a good story teller. He gets the young reader right into the day in the life of these dinosaurs by describing the sites and sounds and what it was like when this pack singles out their prey. His story telling skills are well appreciated by the public and he again does a good job here. He uses the imagination of the reader to visualize what it must have been like. The reader then can also visualize what it must have been like with the help of excellent illustrations by the award-winning paleo artist Michael Skrepnick who works on restorations and reconstructions of newly described dinosaurs with many well-known dinosaur researchers.
The story woven by Dr. Bakker follows the single day in a life of these raptors as they track a heard of Tenontosaur (plant-eating dinosaurs that weighed about 1200 pounds) and they single out and kill, and devour one that is injured. They then climb up into a tree, falling asleep, and are in turned stalked by the giant predator (acrocanthosaur). He then goes on to explain how scientists study both the rocks, minerals, fossil plants, claws, teeth and bones, as well as modern predators and pray to understand how these "raptors" may have behaved.
By the time the reader is done he or she will have a good idea of how scientists are able to use all the evidence of the fossils (both dinosaurs and plants) along with the rocks to tell a story about how these fascinating creatures may have lived. For young readers in grades 2-4 this book is a must addition to any young dinosaur enthusiast that might be looking for more on these creatures. I have watched Dr. Bakker at meetings and how he engages both adults, and especially children, with his story telling abilities. As a story-teller Bob is able enthrall his audience, and get across to them the knowledge that he has acquired over the years. And in this book the reader will have a good chance to be captured by this story by one of my favorite story-telling paleontologists and acquaintance.
6/27/03, from DINO RUSS'S LAIR
A paleontologist discusses what is known of the physical characteristics and behavior of Deinonychus, a member of the raptor family of dinosaurs. Raptors were a kick-boxing pack of hunters who could slice open a veggie-saur with a single stroke. They were tree-climbing cannibals who fed their babies the way eagles feed their chicks. Scientist "bone sleuths" follow them as they read rocks and fossils and study modern predators to figure out "who did what, where, and how?" during the Age of Dinosaurs. The large print, high interest and easy reading with pictures will meet the needs of young people with reading difficulties. This is a "Step Into Reading Step 5" book and is illustrated by Michael Skrepnick. If you like this book, look for more reading suggestion titles of Step into Reading books at the back of the book. The list is also useful for the adult who is helping with the choice of a book. These books have been successful with students and readers. 2003, Random House, Ages 7 to 9.
What People are saying about this
Raptor Pack is a kids' book, aimed at grades 2-4. It aims very high: the
goal is to demonstrate how the science of palaeontology actually works. And
it achieves that goal admirably.
The approach is a very strong one: after a brief introduction in which Bob
Bakker tells us who he is and what he does, chapter one is a "day in the
life" story of a pack of Deinonychus (the eponymous raptors). They track,
kill and eat a Tenontosaurus, climb a tree to avoid an Acrocanthosaurus and
drive it away by vomiting bone fragments over it. All good stuff for kids!
The remaining four chapters explain the science behind the story, showing how
scientists form hypotheses from evidence. (It doesn't say much about argument
and proof, but hey, what do you expect in 48 pages?)
Chapter two briefly discusses the exhumation and reconstruction of
Deinonychus. Chapter three looks at its weaponry: the "killer claw",
hind-leg muscle attachment sites, agility from the stiffened tail and
suchlike. Chapter four looks at lifestyle inferences: raptors' ability to
climb trees and evidence for pack-hunting. Chapter five identifies the
raptors' victims by considering what else lived at the time and looking for
"smoking gun" tooth crowns found with various corpses. It also considers
how raptors likely expelled unwanted matter (by analogy with birds), and
discusses parental care.
The effect of the whole is compelling; it's a real window into the way
science can work for kids who are more often just presented with conclusions.
If I were being picky, I'd say that the boundary between chapters 4 and 5
doesn't make much sense, but that hardly spoiled the book to the
five-year-old I read it to - he loved it. And so do I.
Finally, as well as being written by Bakker, this books had input from Tom
Holtz and Phil Currie, so those are big guns firing. Highly recommended.