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Children's LiteratureSubtitled "A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Before Dinosaurs," this compendium of information about the animals, plants, weather patterns and landmasses that existed even before the rise of the dinosaur is a great resource for curious kids who like their science in bite-size portions. The book's journey begins in the coal swamps of 320 million years ago, when the Earth's continents were all grouped together and there was only one giant ocean. Over the next 100 million years, land masses separated and drifted; amphibians, ferns and insects grew huge; proto-dinosaur reptiles made their first appearance; and the remains of the gigantic plant life in this hot, swampy eco-system piled up, destined to be mined eons later as coal, after millions of years spent compressed under layers of rock and soil. Kids will love the easy-to-access format of this full-color, hardcover picture book, and its accurately detailed illustrations done in cartoon/graphic-novel style. Author/illustrator Bonner gives us scientific explanations and theories in easy-to-understand language, with lots of humor mixed in—a good style for the middle grade reader the book is designed to reach. Many pages feature comic book panels or cartoon bubble captions to give even more fun facts. Besides meeting such fascinating creatures as Arthropleura (a 6-foot long bug) and Archosaurus (a fierce, meat-eating proto-crocodile), readers will finally discover a scientific answer to the old question, "Which came first: the chicken or the egg?" The book includes extra materials such as a timeline of life on Earth; a section on 'where to learn more' about this fascinating subject; a glossary of words not defined in the text; a guide on howto pronounce the scientific names in the book; a glossary of words not defined in the text; and a complete index. 2003, National Graphic Society, Ages 9 to 12.