How to Survive in the Age of Dinosaurs Blog Tour and Giveaway



Welcome to the blog tour for

How to Survive in the Age of Dinosaurs,

part of National Geographic Kids’ DinoMAYnia – a month-long celebration of all things prehistoric!

All week blogs are hosting fun excerpts from this handy guide so you will know just what it takes to dodge deadly dinosaurs, ride out mega monsoons and escape other perils of the prehistoric!

How To Survive the Jurassic

Feeling proud for making it this far? Well, that was just the warm-up. In the Jurassic, Earth’s land begins to split apart. Enormous cracks appear in the ground. The planet strains and shakes. Finally, Pangaea splinters. The climate changes, too: What was once hot and dry becomes warm and wet. Lush plants sprout up, a feast for some of the biggest dinosaurs that ever lived. And predators evolve, too — large and ferocious enough to take the others down. This is a dino-eat-dino world.

  • The Jurassic: 201-145 million years ago
  • Known For: The dinosaur takeover
  • Best Place for Home Base: Ginkgo forests
  • Your Main Food Source: Jurassic plants
  • Try to avoid: Meat-eating dinosaurs

Prehistoric Problem: Biting Bugs


The Jurassic was definitely a period of dino domination. But it was also an awesome time to be an insect. During the Jurassic, insects crawl and buzz around every inch of the earth and skies. And to them, you’re nothing but a tasty, walking meal.

Because they evolved to feed on animals that no longer exist, many Jurassic insects—such as the parasite Qiyia jurassica—have features that would be unfamiliar to modern humans. These fly larvae have an abdomen that has been transformed into a giant sucker — perfect for devouring the blood of Jurassic salamanders. The sucker is surrounded by six spines that help the larvae stick to their slippery victim.


Picture a dog infested with fleas: It scratches and rolls, trying to deal with the maddening itch. Now imagine a Brachiosaurus doing the same thing! Flea-like insects first evolved during this time, and they probably plagued the dinosaurs just as badly as they do your modern-day Labrador retriever. Ten times the size of modern fleas, they had a huge proboscis (a long, sucking mouthpart) that would have felt like a hypodermic needle as it plunged into the skin. Ouch!

Fortunately, not all Jurassic insects are bloodsuckers. Creatures called kalligrammatids flap from leaf to leaf, pollinating extinct seed plants called bennettitales as they sip on their nectar, just like modern butterflies. Also like butterflies, their wings are decorated with spots that look like eyes. But kalligrammatids aren’t butterflies— those won’t evolve for another 40 to 85 million years.

Considering you’re trying to get by in a time before insect repellent, these are some awful pests. But you have one hope: They might not see you as a victim. Modern bloodsuckers often have specialized mouthparts and attack only one kind of prey. So keep your fingers crossed— perhaps these nasty invertebrates will only attack critters they’re familiar with, leaving you bite free.

Did You Know?

Rex and Velociraptor, stars of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, actually lived during the Cretaceous. Oops!


Buy | Buy on Bookshop.org


How to Survive in the Age of Dinosaurs:

A Handy Guide to Dodging Deadly Predators, Riding Out Mega-Monsoons and Escaping Other Perils of the Prehistoric

(ages 8-12, Paperback, National Geographic Kids Books)

Boom, boom, BOOM … Look out! That’s a T. rex coming your way!? You’ve been transported back in time to the age of the dinosaurs. What do you do?!

Test your chops and discover if you have what it takes to survive at a time when Earth looked, well, a tad different in this ultimate survival guide to the prehistoric age.

Find out how to make it through exploding volcanoes and mega monsoons—while dodging giant Permian bugs! See how to fend off an angry pterosaur and learn what to do if you’re caught in a stampede of enormous titanosaurs. Discover what you could eat (spoiler alert: You better like the taste of insects!), and find out which hungry creatures just might try to eat you!

Packed with tips, tricks, and helpful maps, this is the ultimate handbook for dinosaur fans who want to know what life on Earth was really like when dinos ruled. Could you survive in the age of dinosaurs?


About the Author

Stephanie Warren Drimmer is an award winning science writer based in Los Angeles, California. She writes books and magazine features for kids about everything from the strangest places in space, to the chemistry of cookies, to the mysteries of the human brain. She has a degree in science journalism from New York University…but she thinks she likes writing for kids because she’s secretly still one herself.



About the Expert Contributor

Dr. Steve Brusatte vertebrate paleontologist and evolutionary biologist and professor at the University of Edinburgh who specializes in the anatomy, genealogy, and evolution of dinosaurs and other fossil organisms. He has written over 110 scientific papers, published six books (including the adult pop science book The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, the textbook Dinosaur Paleobiology, and the coffee table book Dinosaurs), and has described over 15 new species of fossil animals. He has done fieldwork in Brazil, Britain, China, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and the United States. His research is profiled often in the popular press and he is a “resident paleontologist” and scientific consultant for the BBC’s Walking With Dinosaurs team.

Website | Twitter



  • One (1) winner will receive a copy of How to Survive in the Age of Dinosaurs!
  • US/Can only
  • Ends 6/3 at 11:59 pm ET
  • Enter via the form below

Visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win


Blog Tour Schedule:

May 22ndMom Read It

May 23rdMs. Yingling Reads

May 24thFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors

May 25th Log Cabin Library

May 26thMrs. Book Dragon


STEM Tuesday–Dinosaurs/Paleontology– Interview with Author Karen Bush Gibson

Welcome to STEM Tuesday: Author Interview & Book Giveaway, a repeating feature for the fourth Tuesday of every month. Go Science-Tech-Engineering-Math!

Today we’re interviewing Karen Bush Gibson. She’s the author of Gutsy Girls Go For Science: Paleontologists. The book features the lives of five women paleontologists—Mary Anning, Mignon Talbot, Tilly Edinger, Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska, and Mary Leakey—who overcame obstacles to make breakthrough discoveries about ancient life.

Mary Kay Carson: What’s the book about—and why did you chose to write it?

Karen Bush Gibson: Imagine how cool it must be to discover something no one has seen for over 145 million years? Even more exciting is if your discovery is a puzzle piece in the history of living things. Gutsy Girls Go for Science: Paleontologists highlights some of the women who have accomplished this. I’ve always been fascinated by women who achieve great things, particularly in male-dominated fields. One of those fields is paleontology, in which many women have been discriminated against. Although females make up nearly half of the student members in professional paleontology organizations, less than 25% become professional members.

MKC: Could you share an especially interesting tidbit from your research? 

Karen: I’m ashamed to say that except for Mary Leakey, I knew little of the other women featured before I started research. Now, as is often the case, I see references to these women everywhere. Particularly Mary Anning, who began making great discoveries when she was just 12 years old. Due to her circumstances, she had to educate herself, but became the best fossil finder of the early nineteenth century when the science of paleontology was just starting. She made the first discoveries of ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs. Anning instinctively knew where to find fossils and to what prehistoric family and groups they belonged to. Great male paleontologist of the day came to see Anning, and it’s said that many of them struggled to keep up with her on the cliffs of Lyme Regis.

MKC: Did your investigations into the lives of these five accomplished women reveal any commonalities? 

Karen: All five women were driven by curiosity and the need to know more. Two succeeded despite being caught up in the events of World War II. Another lived in poverty. All experienced societal restrictions in education or their profession at some point. Yet none of them allowed these hardships to dissuade them from their chosen path. They never gave up.

MKC: Why do you choose to specifically write STEM books?

Karen Bush Gibson loves exploring history and the world through writing. She is particularly fascinated by interesting women, so she’s bouncing off the wall about the 100th anniversary of the women’s vote this year. When not writing about awesome women or travel, Gibson works as an instructional-curriculum designer. • kbgibson.net  • www.facebook.com/Books4CuriousKids  • @Gibson4writing

Karen: I do not have a STEM background, but since writing a book on female aviators in 2013, I have heard repeatedly about females being discouraged or at least not encouraged in science and math in the classroom. When I was a child, I was good at math. I found sciences like genetics and archaeology fascinating. But I don’t recall anyone encouraging me. My father was an engineer, but it never occurred to me to explore engineering. However, as a writer of STEM books, I get to explore my own curiosity and immerse myself in subjects like aeronautics, marine biology, meteorology, cell science, programming, and paleontology. And one of my children is studying to be an astrophysicist, so I get to pick his brain a lot.

MKC: Who did you write this book for?

Karen: I believe nonfiction books—including STEM books about female paleontologists—should be every bit as interesting as fiction. I always tried to start a chapter with a paleontologist doing or discovering something exciting. And I wanted the reader to feel as if he or she were there. Yes, Gutsy Girls Go for Science includes STEM, but it’s also about girls with dreams. And that’s who I’m writing for, young people with dreams and interests in STEM. I hope books like this help young people believe they can be anything they want to be, especially a paleontologist.

Win a FREE copy of Gutsy Girls Go For Science: Paleontologists

Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment below. The randomly-chosen winner will be contacted via email and asked to provide a mailing address (within the U.S. only) to receive the book.

Good luck!

Your host is Mary Kay Carson, author of The Tornado Scientist, Alexander Graham Bell for Kids, Mission to Pluto, Weird Animals, and other nonfiction books for kids. @marykaycarson

STEM Tuesday–Dinosaurs/Paleontology– Writing Tips & Resources


Backmatter Matters

Imagine you wake up in a strange place. Although the place does not feel threatening, just being there is jarring because you don’t know why you are there, or how you got there. You don’t know what to do or how to interact. That’s what reading a nonfiction book might be like, if it weren’t for the mighty powers of peritext.

Peritext? What’s that? All of the elements in a book that are not in the main body of text. In STEM nonfiction books, peritext can be paramount.

Pick up a nonfiction book from this month’s list and search out those elements. There’s the cover (front and back) and maybe some flap or cover copy; these introduce you to the book and give you a preview of the author’s “take” on the topic. There’s a copyright page and, most likely, other standard elements such as a table of contents, glossary, and index; these give you context, a map to guide your journey, and help when needed. But there may be more—much, much more.

Consider how different the book would be without all of that. What would the reader miss? What do each of those elements actually do for the book? 

Before I began writing professionally, I essentially ignored peritext. I rarely read any portion of the backmatter (everything after the main body of text). One day, a writer friend told me she reads every word of the endnotes—I was astounded. Who would do that?

Then I tried it with a book I loved and realized just how much I had been missing. These elements are designed for the inquiring mind! As a reader and writer, it is worth studying the peritext and pondering its value. Peritext invites us into the reading experience and launches us into the next one.

Try this:

1. Ask a friend to select a nonfiction book that you have never seen. Have them binder clip together the pages that contain the main text. (Note: peritext includes illustrations and chapter titles, etc, but let’s focus on the frontmatter and backmatter for now.)

2. Study the peritext (no peeking at the main text). Jot down a list of what’s there.

      • Is there a table contents? An index? What about a timeline? Anything interesting about the endpapers?
      • Ask yourself: Who uses each of these elements? Who creates them? Do any serve multiple purposes?
      • Now, read the material. From the peritext, what impression do you get about the book?
      • What questions are sparked in your mind?
      • If these elements are illustrated, jot down notes about them as well.

3. Skim the glossary or index.

      • Do some entries surprise you?
      • What questions do you now have? Are you now more, or less, eager to read the book? To read other material on the topic?
      • Search for clues to the core of the book. Not the topics covered, but the theme, the big ideas, the conclusions. (Don’t forget the covers.)

4. Finally, read the entire book.

      • Consider how well the elements in the peritext support the main text.
      • If you were the author, illustrator, editor, etc. would you have done things differently?
      • What factors might impact what’s included in the backmatter? (FYI, typically the author creates most of the backmatter and other publishing professionals create most of the frontmatter and covers.)

As an author, this is how I look at books. I want to know what is there, why it is there, and how it is used. To help me inquire, I started a running list of the elements in various books. Just off the top of your head, you might remember books with recipes, timelines, acknowledgments, bibliographies, or an author’s note, but you would be amazed at the variety. And think how much each of those elements can vary, not only in content, but also in presentation. In some books, the backmatter was even more interesting to me than the main text. 

Backmatter isn’t limited to nonfiction; however, it seems to be more common and extensive in nonfiction. Why? What types of fiction include extensive backmatter? What if more fiction included backmatter?

Try this:

1. Read a book that has limited backmatter.

2. List at least 3 elements which could have been included.

3. Create 1 of those elements for the book. (You might have to make something up for the sake of the exercise.)

4. Share it with a friend and ask if the added element is valuable.

If you’re not careful, you will now find yourself picking up books and flipping to the backmatter before you read the frontmatter. You’ll be noticing how cool it is that the glossary of Dining With Dinosaurs only includes words not already defined in the main text. (So smart—those are the only ones a reader should need in the glossary!) You might start wishing every historical text included a visual timeline like Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers (Science Comic Series). And when you begin to write your next piece, you might start thinking about the backmatter before the front matter. This is what reading like a writer will do to you!


Heather L. Montgomery can’t resist writing backmatter–the ulimate playground for a nonfiction writer. She almost let it take over her upcoming book, Who Gives a Poop? The Surprising Science Behind Scat (Bloomsbury, September 2020). Aren’t you eager to dive into that? For now, you’ll have to be satisfied with the perimatter in her 15 other STEM titles. www.HeatherLMontgomery.com 

The O.O.L.F Files

Just a few more dino books because you can never have too many…

The First Dinosaur: How Science Solved the Greatest Mystery on Earth, written by Ian Lendler, illustrated by C. M. Butzer. In this 220-pager, Lendler carefully lays out how the idea of dinosaurs came to be. Beginning with a bone discovered before the concept of dinosaurs—or even fossils—existed, Lendler walks readers through a wealth of scientific studies to share a story you want to know. This book is likely to blow young minds (and yours).

Dinosaurs By the Numbers (A Book of Infographics), written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins. In classic Jenkins style, this fact-packed book is sure to please dino lovers. Maps, graphs, size-comparisons, all formatted on clean white space do an excellent job of accentuating dinosaur facts and extremes. And, there’s an illustrated table of contents–such tantalizing peritext!

When Sue Found Sue: Sue Hendrickson Discovers Her T. Rex, written by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by Diana Sudyka. This picture book tells how a curious girl grew to be an inquisitive scientist who discovered the most complete (and likely the most famous) Tyrannasoarus rex fossil ever found (so far). Perfect for kids who are collectors and those who yearn to make their own discoveries.