Barnum's Bones

How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World

This post is part of Nonfiction Monday 

(pub. 5.22.2012)  40 pages 

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top

A uthor : Tracey Fern
     and illustrator: Boris Kulikov

haracter: Barnum Brown

O verview from the jacket flap: 

      "Right from the start, Barnum Brown was an unusual boy. He had an unusual name, an unusual way of dressing, and a very unusual hobby - fossil hunting. Barnum collected hundreds of fossils on his family's Kansas farm, but he dreamed of finding something even more unusual: dinosaurs! 
       As a young man, Barnum worked for the American Museum of Natural History and quickly discovered the first dinosaur skeletons for the museum. Then one day in 1902, Barnum was hunting for dinosaurs in the badlands of Montana, when he spotted a milky-brown bone poking out of a hillside.  Barnum had never seen anything like it before. What could it be? It took Barnum months of digging and more months of fitting bones together before he knew what he had found: the world's first Tyrannosaurus rex
        Barnum went on to collect more dinosaur bones than anyone on earth and T. rex became the most famous dinosaur in the world - as important and unusual as Barnum himself."
T antalizing taste: 

    "Something exciting happened in Carbondale, Kansas, on February 12, 1873. The Brown family had a baby boy. It was even more exciting than the circus, and the Browns adored the circus! In fact, the Browns loved the circus so much they named their baby Barnum, after the most famous circus owner in America, P.T. Barnum. They hoped Barnum's important-sounding, unusual name would inspire him to do important, unusual things...
    Just as his family had wanted, Barnum did something important and unusual: he discovered a sleeping dinosaur and brought it back to life.
    Sixty-six million years after extinction, T. Rex lives on in Barnum's bones."

and something more:  On Tracey Fern's author website, she includes a comprehensive Teachers Guide with interesting writing, science, technology, and art activities related to Barnum's Bones. The Guide discusses Latin and Greek roots and their meanings, including that Tyrannosaurus Rex means "tyrant lizard king." Children will enjoy using the list of roots to figure out the meanings of other dinosaur names.
        I always thought it would be great fun to dig for dinosaur bones, so years ago my son and I joined a "dig" at the The Mammoth Center in Hot Springs, South Dakota. The Center focuses not on dinosaurs, but the equally amazing remains of ice age mammoths. I was surprised that the tools we used were dental tools -- tiny picks and brushes. Paleontologists are patient people!
       My friend told me today that her son, Ben, is in central Montana right now on a real dig with a group led by his college geology professor and vertebrate paleontologist, Kristi Curry Rogers. Professor Rogers recently co-wrote an interesting article in Scientific America this past May titled Triumph of the Titans: How Sauropods Flourished. The focus of the current dig in Montana, along the Judith River, is at the Western shore of the former North American inland sea and apparently yields abundant land and marine fossils. Ben's group is working on a joint National Science Foundation and Smithsonian project describing, classifying, and analyzing the batches of fossils they find. And who knows what they might find?


Perogyo said...

This is the first child I've heard about who was named after a circus!

I think archaeological digs are fascinating. On one hand it's a discovery, but on the other hand, it's nothing new. :)

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

What a great way of looking at it -- something new, yet something old. Yes, isn't that funny about his name -- fact better than fiction!

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

I loved this book, too....he certainly was a big personality!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Tara, Yes, his personality matched the size of his T-Rex discovery.

Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

I've been constantly on the lookout for picture books like this one to introduce to my ten year old. One of her godparents is an archaeologist (a very good friend of mine who finished her PhD in Cambridge) and another godparent is an anthropologist (finished his PhD in Univ of Hawaii). But, no, we don't know any paleontologists! Haha. This would be a great read. :)

Kellee Moye said...

Earlier this month I asked for nonfiction recommendations and I was pointed toward this book- I cannot wait to read it even more now after your comments.

Happy reading this week! :)

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Myra, Yes, I think your daughter will enjoy this book. And wow! Those are some heavy duty scientist godparents -- gotta love it! My dad has a PhD in chemistry, but somehow the science ability escaped me. Ah well... I still love writing, and perhaps I can write about a scientist someday :)

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Kellee, I think you'll like it! Thanks for stopping by and co-hosting It's Monday! What Are You Reading Monday? on Teacher Mentor Texts