The Plesiosaur’s Neck

I’m quite excited to present today’s book to you all. Dr. Adam Smith is a paleontologist specializing in plesiosaurs, and the proprietor of both The Plesiosaur Directory & The Dino Toy Blog, the latter of which significantly influenced the creation of Dino Dad Reviews. Given his proclivities, it should come as no surprise then that his debut children’s book is titled The Plesiosaur’s Neck.

Co-authored with Jonathan Emmet and illustrated by Adam Larkum, this story introduces readers to Poppy Plesiosaur and a pair of cephalopods named Alfie Ammonite and Bella Belemnite. The Plesiosaur’s Neck wonders in rhyming prose why Poppy (who specifically belongs to the genus Albertonectes) possessed the eponymous long neck of the title, and provides several suggestions, some more serious than others. Alfie & Bella tag along to provide humorous quips, while non-rhyming inserts go into more detail, clarifying ideas that the rhymes may gloss over.

Adam Larkum‘s endearingly goofy illustrations make for a pleasant viewing experience, even if they don’t really leave a lot to discuss in terms of accuracy, as any specifics are largely obscured by the cartoons style. Nonetheless, a “spotters guide” at the end of the book identifies several background critters from earlier in the story by name, showing that the author had specific taxa in mind and wanted to bring some attention to lesser known genera, a goal I can always respect.

There’s little that identifies any of these as the specific species as they are labeled here, but I appreciate the attention to lesser known critters anyway.

The entertaining writing and illustrations work to effectively educate children about its subject. Not only do readers learn a few things about plesiosaurs themselves, but the open-ended way in which the book presents the various suggestions about the function of Poppy’s neck encourages young readers to actually consider the pros and cons of each suggestion, rather than merely accept some received wisdom about it. This is a crucial step in internalizing the scientific method, and I applaud the author for taking this approach.

I feel like I’m still waiting for a detailed explanation of exactly why plesiosaur necks were so inflexible though, despite their numerous vertebrae.

We really enjoyed The Plesiosaur’s Neck at our house. While I’ve reviewed books about prehistoric sea life in general, and even multiple books about the discoverer of Plesiosaurus, its nice to finally have one specifically about that most famous of prehistoric sea reptiles. I recommend this one, and give it my Dino Dad Stomp of Approval!


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