Booklist starred (June 1, 2012 (Vol. 108, No. 19))
Grades 1-4. On February 12, 1873, Barnum was born. No, not that Barnum—Barnum Brown. His parents hoped his “important-sounding” name would lead him to do important things, and it didn’t take long for their wish to come true. As soon as Barnum could toddle, he collected fossils—so many that they overflowed the house. Years later, when he heard about dinosaur fossils unearthed out west, he wanted in on the action. Barnum often went prospecting in “a fur coat, suit and tie, buffed black boots, and a bowler hat,” and he found bones—lots of them—but wasn’t satisfied. A professor at New York’s Museum of Natural History hired Barnum, believing “he must be able to smell fossils,” and sent him on collection trips. But Barnum’s big find would come in the early 1900s with the discovery of bone fragments from a new species, which Barnum named Tyrannosaurus rex, or his “favorite child.” After Barnum later unearthed a perfect T. rex skull, an entire skeleton was pieced together by 1915, drawing millions of visitors. Fern (Buffalo Music, 2008) writes in language brimming with personality and vividly captures the scientist’s over-the-top personality, while Kulikov’s intricate renderings of dinosaur bones are truly breathtaking. This will captivate the masses of kids whose jaws drop in the presence of hulking fossils. An author’s note concludes.