Books for Children / Fossil fuel for the new bone wars: Dinosaur madness

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The Independent Culture
MORE THAN a century ago, when palaeontologists hired thugs with guns in the scramble for the rich fossil remains of Colorado and Wyoming, they called it the Bone Wars. Today the battle is fought with books, merchandising and marketing hype: there are fewer injuries, perhaps, but there is a lot more money to be made.

Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park may be six months old but dinomania lives on. There are five titles in Watts Books' Dinosaurs series: Giants of the Earth, The Real Monsters, A Closer Look, All Shapes and Sizes and Death and Discovery (each pounds 8.50 hardback, pounds 3.99 paperback). The series also comes with a recommendation from the Dinosaur Society. Each page bulges with full-colour lizardry and contrasting modern-day photographs: the illustrations impart a brooding mystery to those Jurassic swamps and plains. But at pounds 42.50 for the full hardback set, it is a present probably only for the terminally saurophile.

From Dorling Kindersley comes The Ultimate Dinosaur Book ( pounds 15.99), written by David Lambert and with the imprimatur of the Natural History Museum. This promises its readers the most up-to-date research and cultivates a more dispassionate air - ideal for a teenage tyrannofreak with aspirations to boffinhood.

For the tyro dinomane, however, Puffin's Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals, part of its 100 Questions and Answers series, would make an excellent starter. It is snappy, cheap ( pounds 3.99, paperback) and cheerful, and has enough T Rex teeth on display for the most bloodthirsty eight-year-old.