Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters

Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters

Robert Sabuda , Matthew Reinhart
Nonfiction Novelty Book
For ages 8 and up
Candlewick Press, 2006   ISBN: 978-0763622299

There can be no doubt that hundreds of millions of years ago, in the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras, the world's oceans, seas, and lakes must have been very dangerous places to be. There were predators of all kinds swimming and crawling about. If the idea of a Great White Shark worries you, imagine what it would be like to come face to face with a sea scorpion, complete with pincers and a stinger, that was seven feet long. There were giant cone-shelled squids that grew up to thirty-six feet long, and enormous ninety foot long armored fish.

Of course there were also sharks which were so big that they make today's species seem puny in comparison. They came in all shapes and sizes because they adapted to many different kinds of environments and lifestyles. Perhaps what is most extraordinary of all is that this group of animals, unlike the dinosaurs, has survived to the present day, though most modern day sharks are quite small and none of them sport the circular saw-like tooth arrangement that helicoprion - a primitive Mesozoic shark - had.

This is a remarkable exploration of ancient sea creatures, from invertebrate monsters to the huge pliosaurs and plesiosaurs. The authors not only describe some of the enormous creatures that lived long ago in very colorful and visual terms, but they also place the animals in their historical context, thus enabling the reader to understand when these creatures lived and what their world might have been like.

With more than 35 colorful pop-ups, this second volume in the Encyclopedia Prehistorica series is both an astonishing work of paper art and an excellent source of information about the great and terrifying "monsters" which inhabited the world's watery places millions of years ago. Older readers will be able to appreciate the tongue-in-cheek humor in the text, while younger readers will find the pop-ups and artwork absorbing and intriguing.