Patrick O'Brien, author-illustrator
Patrick O'Brien is a full-time illustrator who has also authored twelve children books to date, including the Captain Raptor series; You Are the First Kid on Mars; Gigantic!: How Big Were the Dinosaurs?; A Pirate's Life for Me; and Steam, Smoke, and Steel. He has also worked for National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and the Smithsonian, with his art appearing in magazines, newspapers, posters, greeting cards, and even on billboards. Patrick currently teaches at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD.
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A portrait gallery of baby dinos and dino cousins.
Going straight for the “AWWWW” reaction from viewers, O’Brien poses 11 big-eyed, usually fuzzy prehistoric hatchlings on plain white backgrounds in front of huge, slightly blurred parental legs that extend past the page tops. He doesn’t stint on the factual load, either. Along with identifying labels, each creature comes with an informative one- or two-sentence comment, such as, for the stegosaurus (“roofed lizard”): “This pint-sized critter grew into a leaf-eater that had a body the size of an elephant but a brain the size of a meatball.” Just for reference, a plate of meatballs is placed temptingly in front of the little stego…and all the rest of the dino tykes likewise come with either food (notably a box of doughnuts being thoroughly mangled by a tiny triceratops) or plastic toys ranging from a rubber ducky delighting a dinky Anatotitan (“giant duck”) to a race car zooming past a trio of downy velociraptors (“swift thief”). A baby T. rex (“tyrant lizard king”) gazing out sweetly, ensconced in a comparatively huge crown, is an especially adorable addition. Following a set of additional descriptive notes at the end, budding dino-fans will find silhouettes of the babies lined up on a comparative size chart—with a four-foot-tall human child towering commandingly over all.
The term “dinosaur” may conjure a towering Tyrannosaurus rex or lumbering stegosaurus, but even the largest creatures had tiny beginnings. What might they have looked like when they were young? Here, readers are invited to marvel at prehistoric youngsters and learn a few facts along the way. Each baby gets its own adorable spread, and they’re all pictured next to a related modern object (a toy car, a rubber duck), adding a sense of scale as well as whimsy. The focus stays primarily on the infant, with the adult only sometimes glimpsed as giant legs in the background. There are plenty of familiar faces—a triceratops with donuts on its horns or a clutch of downy velociraptors—but also in the mix are lesser-known creatures and non-dinosaurs like the winged pteradon and aquatic elasmosaurus. A helpful height chart at the end sees the babies compared to a four-foot-tall human and adds context to brief introductions. This elementary but eminently entertaining approach will have young readers considering prehistoric animals in an entirely different light.
Page count: 32
9 x 9
Publication date: January 23, 2024