Dig: The Search for Dinosaurs is a fantastic book about author Stuart Plotkin's summer adventures during ten years of uncovering dinosaur bones with experienced paleontologists in Canada, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Interested in dinosaurs from the time he was a boy, he realized many books about dinosaurs are either simple picture books or overly complex textbooks that are hard to understand. As a result, his “just right” book is interesting, easy to read, and incredibly informative. It highlights different kinds of dinosaurs and where they lived. It explains in detail how digs are conducted and describes some of the people who are involved in them. It gives a sneak peek into some research and preservation methods, but it reads like a diary too.
Readers get to experience what life is like camping out, as well as funny moments when accidents and pranks take place. Readers also feel a sense of excitement among team members when a mission goes right and a huge sense of loss for the artifacts when something goes wrong. The e-book version I read is livened up with a couple of short videos, diagrams, and numerous photos. It provides questions to think about, a list of resources for more information, some silly jokes, a chart that shows the geologic time scale, and a glossary of terms that might be unfamiliar. It ends with a kid-friendly explanation about perhaps why the dinosaurs are not here on Earth anymore.
It’s definitely worth repeating that Dig: The Search for Dinosaurs is a fantastic book about dinosaurs, but it’s so much more! It’s written for readers ages 8 through 12, but teens and adults could certainly enjoy it. Readers don't necessarily need to have an interest in dinosaurs either. I never before realized that dinosaurs once lived in North America or that digs with real paleontologists actually take place today. Through all of the book’s well-explained information, I felt I was a part of these excursions and learned about places I’ve never had an opportunity to visit.
Reading this book also is a practical way to see how experts work through the scientific method. It has great examples of how they work together and learn by trial-and-error. Plotkin shows kids that, as they grow up, they can still hold onto special interests they had when they were young. He also admits how much of a novice he was at his first dig and how he kept learning more as he continued even though things didn’t always go his way. Parents and teachers would appreciate the questions to think about and resources for more information, and kids should like the lighthearted way the book ends. I hope readers give this book a chance and like it as much as I do!