The Extinct Alphabet Book
Jerry Pallotta, author
Jerry Pallotta began writing books to entertain his own children. Now, as the author of a best-selling alphabet books series and other children's books, he is delighting young readers everywhere. Jerry lives in Boston, Massachusetts with his family.
Read more about Jerry.
Ralph Masiello, illustrator
Ralph Masiello is an award-winning graduate of Rhode Island School of Design. He has illustrated many books for young readers, including The Skull Alphabet Book, The Yucky Reptile Alphabet Book, and The Icky Bug Alphabet Book. Ralph lives in Massachusetts with his family.
Read more about Ralph.
"H" is for Hallucigenia—a creature so startling in appearance that the scientists who discovered its fossils thought they were hallucinating. "X" is for Xerces Blue—a gossamer-winged butterfly that dwelled on one particular hill in San Francisco, until urban expansion destroyed its habitat. This alphabetized assembly of bygone species mixes the ancient and contemporary, the bizarre and beautiful. Pallotta's conversational text swings between scientific ("Fossilization occurs when minerals replace what used to be the bones of an animal") and silly ("K is for Kaka. . . If we could go back in time and talk to this bird it would probably say, 'I wish I had a different name'"); between an activist's gravity and a punster's levity. Masiello's exotically colored oil paintings lend the text need weight and, if readers look closely, with. Although the book's tone and information are well beyond the comprehension skills of letter-learners, the alphabet device serves to marshal the roster of extinct species without rebuffing adventurous preschoolers. Nothing so obvious as a dinosaur is included, but neither are pronunciations of words sure to fluster even the most confident readers.
Science Books & Films
This book can be enjoyed on several levels. First, it is an extremely attractive book, with beautiful illustrations of extinct animals on each page. The approach is to have one animal for each letter of the alphabet, with one page for each letter. The author actually put in two pages for four of the letters, so there are 30 pages of illustrations. The illustrations are instructive, giving a realistic image of what the creatures looked like. This is interesting to both children and adults. The text hat accompanies the illustrations is also interesting and informative. The approach implies an evolutionary concept. Statements such as "ninety-nine percent of all living things that ever lived are now extinct" show that extinction is a natural process. A page devoted to Neanderthals shows that this process applies to human lineage as well. Reasons are given for why an animal becomes extinct, such as disease, loss of habitat, and human pressure. The text is written with a light touch, with both humor and wit. It is not, however, completely without problems. For example, although a pronunciation guide is given for coelacanth, none is given for names denoting any other animals.
Page count: 32
10 x 8