Did Dinosaurs Eat Pizza? Mysteries Science Hasn't Solved
by Lenny Hort; illustrated by John O'Brien
Our first outing as parents to the American Museum of Natural History in April didn't go as planned, to say the least. I got us on the wrong subway and we ended up on the East Side, instead of Upper West, so we tried to cab it, then doubled back in frustration, then almost took an express to Harlem. By the time we got there, a mere 90 minutes before closing, we couldn't raise the people we were meeting via cell phone.
We headed to the dinosaurs so Seth could promptly express boredom with all those massive skeletons, none of which moved or flew or ate his sister. Humph. I hid in a small theater to nurse the baby, who promptly fell asleep, trapping me in an infinite loop with Meryl Streep. Mass extinctions! Rain forest butchery! Oh my.
But our love of dinosaurs emerged unscathed, even if they are just a buncha bones. And that's kinda the prob for paleontologists too. For everything they can surmise about the big lizard/bird thingees from their fossils, there's tons of sheer guesswork, like what color skin they had or whether T. Rex hunted or scavenged.
This is serious stuff, never mind the dopey title. I guess that was an attempt at whimsy, but the inside's all science, even in O'Brien's comical ink-and-watercolor art. Okay, there was a pizza reference. A sauropod loops around itself and the palms it's eating have red tops. It looks like a squiggly pizza with a sauropod crust, illustrating text about how anybody might eat enough to maintain a 100-ton waistline. Who knows?
This book doesn't have all the answers. In fact, it has none of them. What sounds did they make? How did they court? How did they lay eggs from such huge heights? It's like all the times kids ask you a question and you've no idea how many stars there are or whether that stain is poo or chocolate or can we go yet. So you say "I don't know, sweetie" and endure their disappointed/skeptical/disgusted look because you know that in another 10 years, you're going to be seeing that same expression a lot.
Hort keeps his text short, precise, quick, then lets O'Brien have all the fun. We see a tiny, bow-tied and aproned dinosaur waiter being shoved out the kitchen door to serve a platter to T. Rex, whose table is surrounded by empty aprons, bow ties and bones. Gulp!
This is a fun one for the dino-obsessed, who have more questions than anyone can answer, and just so y'know that even the answer people get stumped.