At age 7, my son is still fascinated by dinosaurs, especially rocks and bones. As he also loves graphic novels, this seemed like a great idea. The idea of taking the Bone Wars between March and Cope and turning them into a graphic novel is absolutely brilliant. Children can learn about science and history and have fun at all the same time.
The execution however, was less than brilliant. The art work is black and white but it is good - no complaints in that department. The pages are well laid out and easy to follow. I had the impression while reading this, that the writer had less background in these characters than my son had though. He felt the need to write in a fictional sub plot which really made things confusing and both my son and I struggled to keep track of what was going on. I really wish he had left that part out and instead included some of incidents that were actually reported at the time, such as sabotage and the use of dynamite to destroy fossils rather than let the other get their hands on them. Even the eventual social, financial and academic ruin suffered by both men as the result of their feud is difficult to understand going solely by this book.
In short - you will need a good background in the fossil wars between these rival paleontologists to understand what is going on this book. But if you already know the story so well - do you really need the book? Nice pictures but not much in the way of content. I could still recommend this simply because it is so unique. It is something different on a paleontology oriented bookshelf especially for a child with a combined love of paleontology and graphic novels - but it will not be for everyone.
on 6 September 2011
I have enjoyed the story of Cope and Marsh since I first read it in one of Bakker's books. This gives a somewhat sensationalised version, but the authors are careful to explain in the notes what has been exaggerated and what has not. The characters were somewhat confusing initially as, unless you are familiar with the story, their character tics were not emphasised enough to make them recognisable in a graphic novel format. Nonetheless the page layouts were impeccable.
I grew up on Charles Knight's illustrations and enjoyed his inclusion in the narrative. I would buy this book for children 10 and up, but they would have to be intelligent and also at least somewhat familiar with the protagonists and the story.