Monday, February 10, 2014

The Wonderful Egg, by Dahlov Ipcar

The Wonderful Egg
Author/Illustrator: Dahlov Ipcar
Publisher: Nobrow/Flying Eye Books
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
(Originally published: Knopf, 1958)
Source: Edelweiss
View on Amazon

Originally published in 1958, The Wonderful Egg is being republished this spring by Flying Eye Books (an imprint of Nobrow).I sometimes find it harder to be critical of children's books than adult books for some reason, but I have to be honest. There was so much about this book that bothered me. This is what happens when you republish a book for nostalgia reasons but don't update the wrong information throughout it. You get this book. A supposedly educational book about dinosaurs with beautiful pictures and maddeningly incorrect information. On every page. Oh it made my brain hurt. Even my four-year-old was spotting the errors. "That's not a dinosaur!" "The flying ones were reptiles, but not dinosaurs!" "Wait, there were mammals alive at that time too!"

Don't be fooled by this promise of educational information. There is incorrect information on virtually EVERY PAGE.

Okay, "more than one hundred million years ago" is very specific. Not all the dinosaurs in the book existed at the same time "more than 100 million years ago" but I'll let that go.

"The only animals that lived in the green jungles of the world were the dinosaurs." Well that's just flat-out wrong. There were other prehistoric animals besides dinosaurs! There was never a time in which the ONLY animals were dinosaurs. Also "other huge reptiles...even flew through the air"? Yes, they were OTHER REPTILES, but they WERE NOT DINOSAURS. Prehistoric reptiles who flew or who lived exclusively in the water WERE NOT DINOSAURS. 

The rest of the book goes on to describe dinosaur after dinosaur (and quite a few that aren't even dinosaurs) whose egg it might be. And of course every single one of those dinosaurs is referred to as "he" because why not? That makes sense.

Oh FFS. "Brontosaurus"? NOT A REAL DINOSAUR. It's the popular but incorrect name for the Apatosaurus. This was settled, like, a hundred years ago. THIS IS WHY YOU UPDATE YOUR SO-CALLED EDUCATIONAL BOOKS, PEOPLE.

And then, after all that the "wonderful egg" turns out not to be a dinosaur egg at all, but the "very first bird egg ever." Uh, what? The book then goes on to describe Archaeopteryx, which at one time was referred to as "the first bird" but even this information is very outdated. There isn't really a "first bird" since there were bird-like reptiles and reptilian prehistoric birds. And Archaeopteryx was very reptilian, in that it had claws at the end of its wings and a full set of teeth. But this book describes it as "the very first song bird" with the "very first song ever heard in the world." Uh no. No. No no noooooo.

It's clear to me that the biggest selling feature of this book is the artwork and the nostalgia it is supposed to inspire. Maybe that would be fine if it wasn't presented as educational. If you really want to republish a dinosaur book with beautiful pictures but completely wrong info, perhaps you should also get permission to update the text.

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