Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My 8th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a great book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-"My 1st Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2013/03/my-1st-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 2nd Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2013/04/my-2nd-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 3rd Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2014/04/my-3rd-pair-of-reviews_21.html
-"My 4th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2014/08/as-art-evolved-member-i-post-pair-of-my.html
-"My 5th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2014/10/my-5th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 6th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2014/11/my-6th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 7th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2014/12/my-7th-pair-of-reviews.html

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The best day-in-the-life dino books ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R16K64LXYBME69/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0375823042 ): 5/5

Short version: If I was going to build the perfect children's dino book, I'd build a Bakker book. If I was going to build the perfect Bakker book, I'd build a Step-into-Reading book because it's just the right blend of education & entertainment. In other words, Bakker's Step-into-Reading books are to children's dino books what "Wild Kratts" is to science/nature edutainment shows (
http://www.amazon.com/review/R2YG8ZL43RYDFO/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00652U6WE&nodeID=2625373011&store=movies-tv ).

Long version: Read on.

Growing up, my favorite children's dino books were day-in-the-life dino books because, when they're done right, they give the best idea of 1) what dinos were like when alive, & 2) how we know what we know. Of all the day-in-the-life dino books I've read, Bakker's Step-into-Reading books ("Raptor Pack", "Maximum Triceratops", & "Dactyls! Dragons of the Air") are by far the best.* In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think that is while using "Maximum Triceratops" (henceforth MT) as an example.

1) The 1st part of a day-in-the-life dino book usually tells a day-in-the-life story of a dino. 1 of the major problems I have with many day-in-the-life dino books is that their stories are poorly-written/illustrated. Thanks to Bakker, MT doesn't have that problem. In fact, to quote Bryner ( http://news.yahoo.com/paleo-artists-breathe-life-color-dinosaurs-114332358.html ), Bakker "transformed dinosaur paleontology and reconstruction, calling it a Dinosaur Renaissance": In MT, Chapter 1 tells a day-in-the-life story of a T.maximus & its encounter with a T.rex; What's awesome about this is 1) Rey's traditional paleoart (which is especially good at showing how active & colorful dinos were when alive), & 2) the tension & suspense ("which is allowed to slowly build to a truly upsetting climax");** This reminds me of Tippet's "Prehistoric Beast", but with the roles of attacker & attacked reversed. As far as I know, the only other day-in-the-life story that's as well-written/illustrated is in an adult dino book authored by 2 experts.***

2) The 2nd part of a day-in-the-life dino book usually explains the science behind the story. 1 of the major problems I have with many day-in-the-life dino books is that they concentrate on the story with only limited emphasis on the science (which doesn't make sense to me given how much science there is behind a given story). It'd be like "The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: Extended Edition — Blu-ray" having 26 hours of film & only 11 hours of bonus material ( http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/movies/dvd/2011-06-30-lord-of-the-rings-dvd-extra_n.htm ). Thanks to Bakker, MT doesn't have that problem. In fact, to paraphrase Switek ( http://scienceblogs.com/laelaps/2008/04/07/paleontological-profiles-rober/ ), Bakker isn't only "a working paleontologist", but also 1 of the most "effective popularizers of science": In MT, Chapters 2-9 begin with the discovery of T.maximus & the controversy surrounding it, continue with the head anatomy, infrasound, locomotion, habitat, & social behavior of Triceratops, & end with the unsolved mysteries of T.maximus & its mammalian competitors; The middle chapters are especially good at showing how we know what we know, explaining the scientific process without dumbing down; This reminds me of the "Dinosaur Train" series, but for older kids.

*I'm including "Dactyls! Dragons of the Air" because, while pterosaurs aren't dinos, the story takes place in the Mesozoic Era (I.e. The Age of Dinosaurs) & there are dinos in it.

**Google "WABI SABI FOR ROBOTS: Phil Tippet's Prehistoric Beast."

***See Chapter 3 of Gardom/Milner's "The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs".

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1 of the worst dino docs in book form ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2FFY9S77ANRTK/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0810957981 ): 1/5

Short version: Johnson's "Dino Wars: Discover the Deadliest Dinosaurs, Bloodiest Battles, and Super Survival Strategies of the Prehistoric World" (henceforth Wars) is basically "Jurassic Fight Club" (henceforth JFC) in book form, but worse.

Long version: Read on.

JFC is 1 of the worst dino docs. TyrantisTerror's "Jurassic Fight Club Formula" ( http://tyrantisterror.deviantart.com/art/Jurassic-Fight-Club-Formula-136354754 ) & Albertonykus' "Paleogene Fight Club" ( http://albertonykus.deviantart.com/art/Paleogene-Fight-Club-188556839 ) sum up why. In this review, I list the 4 main reasons why I think Wars is either similarly bad or worse.

1) Like JFC's writing, Wars' is annoyingly hyperbolic (E.g. See the Johnson quote) & repetitive (E.g. The phrase "sharp-/dagger-/jagged-toothed" is used in most of Wars' fights).

2) Like JFC's transcript, Wars' text is hit-&-miss in terms of getting the facts straight. This is especially apparent in the dino profiles because the misses stick out more with less text. That of the Triceratops profile is some of the worst: On pages 128-129, it's claimed that Triceratops had "heavy, pillarlike legs" (It didn't), that it "was too heavy to rear up on two legs" (It wasn't), that it coexisted with Albertosaurus (It didn't), & that a tyrannosaur's "best chance was to attack a Triceratops that was already wounded after a battle with a rival male in the breeding season" (as opposed to a young, old, sick, or disabled Triceratops); It's also worth mentioning that Johnson is bad at converting to metric (E.g. 7 inches =/= 20 cm).

3) Like JFC's reconstructions, Wars' are mostly not-so-good. Those by Kirk (which are outdated to varying degrees) are as good as it gets in Wars, while those by Dogi ( https://www.behance.net/gallery/991837/Dino-Wars ) are as bad as it gets. The latter are shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions (E.g. The Deinonychus is a shameless rip-off of Rey's Eotyrannus), just plain abominable (E.g. The Gallimimus looks like a demented muppet with teeth), or some combination of both (E.g. See the front cover; There's a shameless rip-off of Kokoro's T.rex with 3-fingered, Alf-like hands & a shameless rip-off of Hallett's Triceratops with 4-fingered, roly-poly hands).

4) As silly & stupid as JFC's premise is (Quoting Jura: "Imagine all 4.6 billion years of prehistory as being one planet wide cage match somewhat akin to Primal Rage. Each week two animals...are pitted against one another"), Wars' is even worse. See "Review update #16 (It's a big 1)!" for how: http://jd-man.deviantart.com/journal/Review-update-16-It-s-a-big-1-520566226
Quoting Johnson: "One of the most ferocious killers the world has ever known, Tyrannosaurus was king of the Cretaceous. Its name means "tyrant lizard" and was richly deserved. This bloodthirsty monster terrorized virtually all other animals of the time."