THE BONE WARS: The True Story of an Epic Battle to Find Dinosaur Fossils, by Jane Kurtz and Alexander Vidal, Beach Lane Books, Nov. 21, 2023, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 3-8)
Learn about the two paleontologists who captivated the world with dinosaur discoveries in The Bone Wars: The True Story of an Epic Battle to Find Dinosaur Fossils, by Jane Kurtz and Alexander Vida.
Did you know that many of the dinosaur skeletons you see in museums are rooted in a scientific battle between two paleontologists? O. C. Marsh and Edward Cope met in 1863 and bonded over their shared love of fossils, becoming the best of friends…until the day Marsh discovered an error in Cope’s work, and the Bone Wars began!
Marsh and Cope stopped collaborating and started competing, excavating fossils as fast as they could, and trying to find the most important never-before-seen discoveries. They each wanted the biggest, best dinosaur bones. And fast! They used code names and disguises, they snooped and tricked, and did everything possible to keep their finds secret. The race was messy and there were many mistakes along the way, but in the end, Marsh and Cope discovered all kinds of new dinosaur skeletons to share with the world—fossils we still get to see today! —Synopsis provided by Beach Lane Books
If you like dinosaurs, then The Bone Wars is a must read. The story behind Marsh and Cope’s unprofessional race to the top is fascinating and gives you a renewed appreciation for the scientists who followed them.
Author Jane Kurtz’s well-researched text is light and playful. Her conversational tone brings the story to life. Illustrator Alexander Vidal’s digital illustrations give readers a sense of how dinosaurs were viewed in the 1800s. His muted color palate and stylized humans are well-suited.
The Bone Wars is a fast-moving and inviting nonfiction picture book that’s a good companion to books that feature different kinds of dinosaurs. It’s a good example of how grown-ups — even “experts” — can make mistakes and how later scientists can learn from them.
About the creators:
Jane Kurtz fell in love with dinosaurs as a 7-year-old visiting Dinosaur National Monument. She is on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program, lives in Portland, Oregon, and is the author of many fiction and nonfiction books for young readers, including What Do They Do with All That Poo?, and The Clues Are in the Poo: The Story of Dinosaur Scientist Karen Chin. To learn more, and to download a free curriculum guide, visit her website: janekurtz.com.
Alexander Vidal spent his childhood summers searching for fossils and learning about prehistoric life at a camp hosted by the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. He now lives in Los Angeles, where he writes and illustrates books about wildlife and nature, including Just You and Me: Remarkable Relationships in the Wild, by Jennifer Ward, and Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood’s celebrity Cougar Helped Build a Bridge for City Wildlife, by Meeg Pincus. Visit his website: alexandervidal.com.
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