Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Kiwi Fossil Hunter's Handbook by James Crampton & Marianna Terezow
(Random House) ISBN 978-1-86979-188-9 RRP$39.99

Did dinosaurs once stalk GoldenBay? Is limestone made of stone - or millions of fossilised animals? And what do lumps of amber tell us about the ancient forests which once clothed New Zealand?

You'll find the answers to these questions and lots more about New Zealand's fascinating prehistory in this A5 sized book (208 pages). The introduction tells us what a fossil is and the many different types, how they become preserved and how to read a fossil. It also gives a very short geological history of New Zealand and the skills to collect fossils. From thereon the book explores region by region and you can find out what type of fossils you will find and where - a very handy book to keep the in car for family day trips. I really like how this book is organised; there are colour keys, fact boxes, geological time-lines, photographs, diagrams and maps. At the back is an extensive glossary, further readings, driving directions, and an index. No space has been wasted - you'll find geological time scales on both the endpapers. The book also contains three pull-out mini posters by well-known artist Dave Gunson, which brings the prehistoric world to life. I wouldn't be surprised if this book is shortlisted for the children's book awards in 2011 - it has all the right ingredients. It is interesting to note the public have not been deterred by the price tag - it has often been in the bestseller list. A highly recommended book for children 8-14 years, parents, teachers and amateur fossil hunters.

Geologist Dr James Crampton is the head of of the GNS Science's Global Change Through Time programme. He worked on the NZ Fossils: Dead Precious! exhibition and is passionate about getting young people interested in fossils.

Biologist Marianna Terezow also works for GNZ Science and worked on the same exhibition. Marianna's 3D samples of fossils can be viewed and played with at the GNS Science website

See inside Teacher notes
If you can tell me something interesting about fossils (for 8-12 year olds) - I'll put you in the draw for a free copy of The Kiwi Fossil Hunter's Handbook.

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