Thursday, March 3, 2011

Let's read some Eye-Searingly bad Dinosaur Books for Children!

I'm going to impulsively discuss the world of discount dinosaur books for children, just in time for *next* month's Boneyard. (Edit: YAAAAY!!! Yes, people discovering me through S.O.S., I'm a bit of a dweeb. But hopefully a funny and informative one.)

Now, dinosaur books at least aren't as bad as cheap toy makers (if only the situation in this book was real). But they likewise tend to be a mine field of too little fact-checking, too much "aw, we'll just base everything on the most famous depiction of the animal in question." It takes a very long time for the new dinosaur finds that change out perspectives and shatter our very expectations of what these wonderful animals were like to filter into the public consciousness (if you don't believe me, ask your friends what a Tianyulong is and why everyone sh*t themselves when it was published).

Dinosaurs

As a shocking demonstration, I have for you two cheap dinosaur books I found in a surplus and salvage store. The first is creatively entitled
Dinosaurs and if you must, it may be purchased at Amazon here. Or not, because the thing is mercifully out of print, but at least we know who to blame now.

Dinosaurs

Now, I should really let images like this one speak for themselves, but the print may get hard to read once I resize them (you should hopefully be able to click for big). For it's first trick, the book confuses Mei Long and Psittacosaurus (if you don't know from dinosaurs, I'm in no position to help you in understanding the rest of this post, but in this case the mammalian equivalent would be identifying a small, fluffy cat as a big, bristly boar). As an added bonus, the text refers to dinosaur eggs. Yeah.

Dinosaurs

The text in this one's a little fuzzy, but it's the most epic failure in the book. Here we have all of our favorite Ornithischians or "bird hipped" dinosaurs! You know, like Torosaurus and Psittacosaurus and Microraptor and Caudipteryx and Ara and...

...

...

Wut?

To be fair, I can see why that'd be confusing. But it's also the kind of thing that makes it clear you have no business writing a book about dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs

I can't tell if these are sad or hilarious in hindsight. (And yes, the top one does say "Torsaurus".)

All About Drawing Dinosaurs & Reptiles

Our next book is this thing, which I am very sad to see is published by Walter Foster, the famous art instruction book publishers. I was going to go ballistic over that title, but it turn out they're all like that (
All About Drawing Sea Creatures and Animals! All About Drawing Horses and Pets! All About Drawing Vehicles and Trees!) It starts out with this handy scale guide for typical animals in the book:

All About Drawing Dinosaurs & Reptiles

Oh... wow...

Then gives us some handy -er- "Dinosaur Extremes". Again the text is fuzzy, but we get the good old "Troodon is the smartest dinosaur" trope again:


All About Drawing Dinosaurs & Reptiles

And finally, a selection of the dinosaur drawings themselves, with some text. LOOK AT THAT TRICERATOPS!!! Also, the fun fact about Baryonx is just strange and that cute Bearded Dragon has no idea why he's here:

All About Drawing Dinosaurs & Reptiles

(And guys... hey guys... guys...
Oshawatt or Snivy?

EDIT: Oshawott. Oshawoot always.)

6 comments:

Albertonykus said...

I must have done a spit take back there when I read about the maniraptors being classed as "bird-hipped dinosaurs".

Love that animation of the Guide being opened. It may engage in extreme (and sometimes ridiculous) lumping, but it must seem like a breath of fresh air after those two. Alas, I haven't read the Guide yet, but Dr. Holtz's encyclopedia should have a similar effect.

Glendon Mellow said...

Okay you can't do that Trish - I have a new baby at home, and when I clicked on the music and scanned through your text and images, the guffaws were in danger of waking up the house.

Damn, those knuckle-bites on my fist are gonna leave a mark.

Trish said...

^ Part of me wants to dance around the room with glee and the other part wants to drop to her knees and cry, God, what have I done?

(Seriously, I will take that as a compliment. Thanks.)

JerkyD said...

"I can't tell if these are sad or hilarious in hindsight. (And yes, the top one does say "Torsaurus".)"

Were the blood stains already there or were your eyes bleeding?

"But this. Ah, this is a marked improvement."

Out of curiosity, who are those people?

Trish said...

^ There are creepy red stains all over the book, probably because the "Whatever-Ology" books have "coffee stains" and such. It probably never even occurred to the publishers that red smears all over the pages of their book could be... misinterpreted. (Euw...)

I'm left to assume that those people are the stars of "Beastly".

JerkyD said...

^^ BTW, I almost forgot to compliment you on your choice of music. I had never heard it b-4 this blog post, but it's very fitting. Whenever I have a similar moment (E.g. The 1st time I read "The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs" in person), it usually sounds more like this (See 15:05-15:20): http://www.mojvideo.com/video-chowder-grubble-gum-and-the-cinnamini-monster/c27aeb0930c568ab0c0b