Written by John Heritage and illustrated by W. Francis Phillipps and “other artists” this book was published by Treasurepress and educates the readers about, “the mighty animals that ruled the world of prehistory described and illustrated in all their ferocious grandeur!”. That it did, this was not only an integral part in my interest in prehistory but also one of the earliest books that I ever owned. If memory serves the book was a Christmas gift from Santa who must have noticed my interest in dinosaurs... As is often the case with books written about early life that are older than one year it has some errors in it. But not that it matters it has resided on my bookcase for the past 35 years and I have looked through it several times over. Not that I needed to as each one of the illustrations of dinosaurs fighting or eating each other have been forever etched onto my subconscious, the cover especially so.
Dr Angela Milner and Dr Ralph E. Molnar served as general consultants on this “comprehensive field guide” intended to serve as a “concise, up-to-date key to the dinosaurs- their physical characteristics, behaviour, evolution, extinction, fossilisation, discovery and display”. Nobody could argue with that the book is illustrated throughout and packed full of information, facts and diagrams and of all the dino related books my younger self borrowed from our local library this was my favourite. That is why I was delighted to find the exact same library book at a jumble sale a couple of years later complete with library stamps and sticker on the spine! I turned a blind eye to this crime and added the book to my own private collection and it has been with me ever since. I refuse to name the guilty culprit that neglected to return the book to the library, I know who it was…she wrote her name inside…
Back in around 1992 my grandparents having been away on holiday returned with gifts for my siblings and I. My sister had a toy horse, my brother a pair of football boots and I received this book confirming that our grandmother knew her grandchildren well. Originally published under the title The Day of the Dinosaur in 1978 John Man’s book was reprinted ten years later and it too possessed the same qualities that I have described in the other books regarding information and pictures. Of all the books I had read this one had a wealth of photographs in it as well, I was particularly fascinated with the photographs of the people responsible for finding dinosaurs.
From 1992 to 1994 I collected these magazines published by Orbis that not only expanded my knowledge of all things prehistoric but also provided me with the vital parts need to construct my glow in the dark T-Rex skeleton (and plastic outer skin)! I delighted in each issue packed with information broken up into various sections like the 3D-gallery centre spread that could be viewed through my T-Rex 3D glasses (free with issue 1). The beautifully illustrated ‘history in pictures’ strips illustrated by Pat Williams that brought the stories of palaeontologist such as Gideon Mantell and Mary Anning to life. I held Dr. David Norman of Cambridge University who handled the ‘Ask the Expert’ back page as the absolute authority on dinosaurs. When I finally visited the Natural History Museum in London in my 20’s I lost count of how many times I pointed out that I had only ever, “seen it photographed in Dinosaurs! Magazine”. A fantastic publication, filled with facts, figures and beautiful illustrations complete with glow in the dark skeletons, collectors cards, posters and 3D glasses- this is how you teach your subject to children.
Update: I seem to have subconsciously ‘pinched’ this idea from TwoHeadedBoy follow this link to his post about the Ladybird Dinosaur book from 1988 (Incidentally I had that book too).
© Arfon Jones 2015. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.