Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Last Laughs: Prehistoric Epitaphs

Last Laughs: Prehistoric Epitaphs

Jane Yolen , J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrator:  Jeffrey Stewart Timmins 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Charlesbridge, 2017   ISBN: 978-1580897068

Deep, or perhaps not so deep, beneath our feet lie the remains of ancient creatures. Fossils of the long departed tell of a very different time. Back then dragonflies with two foot wingspans buzzed around. Back then enormous Nessie like creatures lived in the oceans, and dinosaurs walked the earth. We don’t often think of these prehistoric creatures, but perhaps we should. We should remember them.

In this deliciously funny book Jane Yolen and J. Patrick Lewis bring us some wonderful poems that are very amusing. The poems serve as epitaphs of a sort for the trilobites, the plesiosaurs, and the pterosaurs. We also read about Sarcosuchus, which was a “SuperCroc.” This enormous creature was wiped out when an asteroid hit the Earth in the Mesozoic Era. It sank into “anonymity” after the cataclysmic event, though its distant relatives, the crocodiles and alligators live on Earth today.

We also hear about our old friends the T. Rex, the Velociraptor, and the Triceratops, but then there are a few lesser knows creatures who get to have a final say as well. There is the Kol, a creature so rare that so far we have only found one fossilized foot. Since its remains were found near some velociraptor remains, scientists have suggested that the Kol was eaten by the intelligent little predators.

As we move forward through time we encounter the stories of furry creatures like the Saber-Toothed Cat and the Dire Wolf. Here too we read about the woolly mammoth, one of which came to a sticky end because it stepped into a “tarry puddle.”

Each of the poems in this book, many of which are cleverly irreverent, are accompanied by a little information about the species that is being described. Thus children who explore this book will be both entertained and enlightened.