Top positive review
A good book for beginners
Reviewed in the United States on August 21, 2015
If you're looking for a fairly comprehensive book describing many dinosaur species, this is a good choice. I would recommend this mostly to those who are just beginning to have an interest in paleontology, or those who want a refresher or easy reference book. There's plenty of good stuff in this book, but there are also some not so good.
Let's start with what's good! This book doesn't get overly technical or weighed down by scientific jargon, so it's easy to pick up and read at any time. When a scientific or anatomical term is presented, it's always given a definition, and there's a small glossary in the back if you need a reminder. There's a nice, but short, introduction section at the beginning that briefly covers some basics on evolution and how the species in the book are related to one another. It also describes how fossils are formed and some examples of prehistoric landscapes. My favorite bits in the introduction are the full spread illustrations that clearly mark the flora and fauna.
The encyclopedia section of the book (which is the majority of what you're getting here!) features species starting with the Devonian period. Each animal has a short description describing it's distinguishing features, where it has been found, etc. This is great for a quick look-up of a species to get some basic info. Each entry has it's own illustration.
The illustrations in the book are mostly very nice, but they do have some inaccuracies. Primarily, most suffer from "shrink-wrapping", a popular trend in paleoart that gives the animals a 'skin and bones' appearance- this is most notable on the heads. The theropods (traditionally, the bipedal carnivorous dinosaurs) are frequently illustrated with "bunny wrists", when we now know that their palms would have been facing each other.
There are quite a few grammatical errors in the book, including a mix-up of words in one sentence that got a laugh out of me: "It has been accepted for some time that *dinosaurs* evolved from *birds*." Of course, dinosaurs and birds should be swapped there. Generally, though, the text is pretty good. Keep in mind that the author is from Scotland, so some of the "british english" spellings of words may seem odd to Americans reading it. For example, maneuver vs. manoeuvre.
The most recent dinosaur finds are not included in this book, so don't expect to find entries on Yi Qi, Wendiceratops, or the updated quadrupedal stance of Spinosaurus. A sentence at the very beginning of the book describes this best, "New discoveries are being made so quickly, that before this book is on the bookshelves there will have been an overwhelming number of new finds and developments in the understanding of the subject." In light of this, it would behoove the reader to do a bit more research on any given species they're introduced to in this book, if they're interested in learning more.
All in all, it's a nice book if you're looking for some basic facts, or like the encyclopedia layout of it. Kids will probably enjoy the illustrations, but may not be interested in the text; this isn't a wow-factor book for very small children. If they're really passionate and interested in prehistoric life, then I'd say go for it, otherwise this might be more suitable for early teens and up.
As a side note, the size of the book is much more compact than I thought it would be; I've included a photo with a coke can for scale, for those who ignored the dimensions in the description, like me, haha. My copy arrived somewhat dinged up, on the back cover particularly, though Amazon is usually pretty good with their packaging- since it's a somewhat heavy book, I might suggest having it gift wrapped when sent to you, to avoid it getting smashed up corners.