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donnaodonnellfigurski.com - FOSSIL TALES
Fossil Tales
by Meish Goldish
Chelsea House Publishers
ISBN: 1-7910-7411-0
Ages 9 - 12

Did you know that the word, “dinosaur” was not even a word before the 1800s? Nowadays that word tumbles off the lips of most children, even as young as preschoolers. Children are fascinated with dinosaurs. They are in awe of their size and their strange looks, so it was no wonder that there was an audible buzz from the KIDDLE CRITers as I prepared to read FOSSIL TALES to them.

When they learned of the feud between the leading scientists in the field, Marsh and Cope, they were outraged. It’s crazy!” “Why couldn’t they cooperate?” “Didn’t they know they were damaging history?” These were some statements made by the insightful CRITers.

Meish Goldish examines the time line of fossils in his new book entitled, FOSSIL TALES. He traces dinosaur research from their discovery in the early 1800s until present day. Mr. Goldish also explores a range of topics including the discovery of prehistoric shark’s teeth, reconstruction of found dinosaur bones, and the “goofs” scientists made in naming and renaming the dinosaurs.

Children love just about anything dinosaur-related, and FOSSIL TALES is packed full of fascinating details that capture their interest.

Its array of photos of paleontologists at work and reconstructed dinosaur skeletons nicely complements the text. Judging from the CRITers’ reaction, I can guarantee that the pages of this book will become very well worn as children return to them over and over again. What a DINO-mite job, Mr. Goldish!

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters
FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“I think Meish Goldish wrote this book because he wanted kids to know more about dinosaurs or fossils - any kind of fossils, but mostly dinosaur fossils,” said Tina, “But I don’t think he came up with all that stuff in the book by himself.”

“I think Meish got all of those details from a museum or a dictionary,” said Emma.

“I think when he writes his books, he really studies,” said Jake.

“Maybe he reads other books and says it in a different way, or goes on the web and writes stuff down or asks a scientist if it is correct,” said Tina.

“Yeah, he actually does a lot of research,” said Jaina.

Tina smiled. ” He just wants us to learn a lot,” she said.

“I don’t really think that Marsh and Cope should have been fighting, “ said Ethan, “Whatever they find -- they find.”

“They blew up some of the fossils that could have been (worth) millions of dollars! “ said Jake.

“I wonder why they had to fight,” said Kiley.

Jake nodded. “They should have thought about what they were going to do to the future,” he said.

“Fossils are actually giving us more knowledge and are making us learn more about dinosaurs,” said Roberto.

Jake looked exasperated. “But, I don’t think they realized that all of the fossils of the future were in their hands.”

“Yeah,” said Ethan, “Those dinosaur bones could have been the history of today.”

“Why didn’t they just say, ‘You stay on one side and find your own fossils and I’ll stay on the other side.’ It’s crazy!” said Jake. “They’re stealing other people’s fossils and they are not even doing their own work.”

“What’s the point?” said Ethan, “Why couldn’t they just compromise?”

“Yeah, but if it weren’t for Marsh and Cope,” said Tina, “There wouldn’t be any fossils.”

“And if they never found those bones, we wouldn’t know about dinosaurs,” said Roberto. “If dinosaurs still lived on Earth . . .”

“ . . . They would like to eat us,” interrupted Jaina.

“I would be a dinner,” said Annie with a giggle.

“I would be dessert,” said Tina, “because I am a sweet girl.”

“I’m very sweet, too,” said Jaina. She thought for a moment then added, “Not crunchy or juicy!”

“Well,” said Jake, “Even though the dinosaurs were terrible, they were still amazing!”

Philippe nodded. “I like this book,” he said, “because I like the photographs.”

“Ever since I was three, I wanted to study dinosaurs,” said Jake, “and this book really taught me a lot about them . . . and more.”

“Well, the lesson that we can learn from this story is that if you find a fossil, don’t throw it away. Keep it as a treasure because there is a life in the past generation that you can learn about,” said Jaina.



My mother always said, “You can kill two birds with one stone.” Now, I’m not much for killing birds, but if I can accomplish two things at the same time, I’m all for it! By combining facts about dinosaur lengths and incorporating measurement skills, you can teach “two (subject areas) for the price of one.” (My mother used to say that, too. Well, not the “subject area” part, but you know what I mean.) In this math/science activity called, JUST HOW LONG IS A DINOSAUR, children, armed with yardsticks, set out to measure their favorite dinosaurs.

Children work in pairs or small groups. First they choose a dinosaur from page 26 of FOSSIL TALES. Then find the longest hallway in your school and designate a starting point. Next have the children predict how far down the hallway their dinosaur would reach. Triceratops, 43 feet, may only reach the library, while Seismosaurus, who is 130 feet, might stretch all the way down to Mrs. Grickle’s classroom. Hey . . . that’s almost at the other end of the school. After children record their predictions in their “scientific” notebook, they can work in teams to measure the actual length. Two yardsticks per team works best as they lay them end-to-end.

Encourage the children to reassess their predictions as they proceed with their measurements. This will help them to obtain a more accurate prediction. Happy measuring!
(If it’s a nice day this activity can be conducted outside.)

LANGUAGE ARTS: Making Dino-Mite Words

Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and Tyrannosaurus Rex are mighty big words and hidden inside each of these words are many small words. Children can tug on their DINO detective hats and like the fossil hunters Marsh and Cope, who hunted for dinosaur bones; they can begin their hunt for the smaller words in the BIG dinosaur words.

Choose any “DINO” word. Ex.: S T E G O S A U R U S

Cut construction paper into 2” x 3” cards. Write one letter of your dinosaur word on each card.

Make enough sets for each child to play either individually, in pairs, or small groups.

Children move the letters around their desktops to make new words.


Us Get Sag Tag Stag Goat Rusts Stages

For added incentive and to make the game more fun, have the children record their words on paper. Then have them tally and add the number of letters in each word. They’ll soon learn that the more letters in a word, the higher their score will be.

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

Meish Goldish referenced this site in his book. It’s a great site.


DINOSAUR HUNTERS by Kate McMullan, illustrated by John R. Jones
FOSSILS by Becky Olien
DINOSAUR FOSSILS by Alvin Granowsky
NEW DINOS by Shelley Tanaka, illustrated by Alan Barnard
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All contents copyright (c) 2002. Donna O'Donnell Figurski.
No content may be copied or reproduced in any way without the express permission of the creator.
Clip Art courtesy of GraphicGarden.com

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