Dinosaur Empire! Journey Through the Mesozoic Era: A Graphic Novel by Abby Howard, 128 pp, RL 3

Dinosaur Empire! 
Journey Through the Mesozoic Era
Earth Before Us Series, Book 1
Review Copy from Abrams Books
When it comes to non-fiction, there is definitely room on the shelf for more than one enthusiastic, time and space traveling, slightly kooky teacher/tour guide. And that is exactly what Abby Howard delivers in Dinosaur Empire!, the first book in the Earth Before Us series, with Ms. Lernin, former paleontologist, who is first seen, or, more accurately, heard, speaking from inside a recycling bin where Ronnie has just tossed the quiz on dinosaurs that she failed. "What are you doing sitting in your recycling bin?" Ronnie, quite reasonably asks Ms. Lernin. Her response, which I absolutely love, "That's not important. What is important is your education!"
After convincing Ronnie to join her in her recycling bin so that she can experience Ms. Lernin's "immersive" teaching methods in order to retake - and pass - her quiz, the basics of evolution are first up. From there, they travel to Gondwana, the southern part of Pangea. Panels are packed with information, and really adorable illustrations of the dinosaurs and other creatures of the era. Labels provide names, definitions and phonetic pronunciations, as well as the occasional x-ray peek at bones and other interiors. I especially love that the focus is not just on dinosaurs. Ms. Lernin shares information about insects, plants, trees, and temperatures. Keeping evolution ever present, Ms. Lernin also schooled me on "phytogenetic trees," which are used by scientists to, "map out the history of what organisms came from what other organisms." Back matter includes a glossary as well as Howard's drawing of a phytogenetic tree (with Ronnie and Ms. Lernin sitting under it) showing how dinosaurs evolved.
Dinosaur Empire! Journey Through the Mesozoic Era is a must read for all dinosaur lovers, but also the perfect way to hook readers who think they don't like non-fiction. Be sure to look for more books in this series in 2019! But first, check out...

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