How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum

by Jessie Hartland

How The Dino



Dinosaurs roamed the earth for millions and millions of years. Museum visitors are awed by the massive creatures on display. But how did the fossils of a colossal diplodocus make the 145-million-year journey from the prehistoric plains of Utah to the Smithsonian Institution of today?

Acclaimed author and illustrator Jessie Hartland (How the Sphinx Got to the Museum) beautifully presents this informative and fascinating history of the diplodocus: from its discovery in 1923 in Utah to its arrival in the hallowed halls of this world-famous museum. Essential reading for junior paleontologists.

Original Art

Editorial Review

Kirkus Reviews (STARRED REVIEW):

This cumulative narrative follows the journey of a set of dinosaur bones belonging to a Diplodocus longus that lived 145 million years ago to its present home in the display halls of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

A companion to How the Sphinx Got to the Museum (2010), it similarly describes the work of many hands involved, here starting with the dinosaur hunter who discovered the bones and the paleontologist who went to Utah to identify them and culminating with the museum director who opened the exhibit. What’s special is the reminder of the wide range of tasks involved. The excavators, movers, preparators, curator, night watchman, welders, riggers, exhibits team and cleaner all have their parts. Hartland emphasizes this with her House-That-Jack-Built text, in which each job title has a special capital-letter font, color and background ("CLEANERS" is shown on a scrubbing-brush background, for instance). Her verbs are interestingly varied, as are the many things these people do. The text is printed on double-page illustrations, painted in a childlike manner but detailed enough to show all the people and activities. Backmatter includes a bit of dinosaur information and more about the actual discovery and the display at the museum, including some suggested websites.

An excellent complement to any dinosaur-book collection, this enriches and extends that interest. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

School Library Journal (STARRED REVIEW):

As she did in How the Sphinx Got to the Museum (Blue Apple, 2010), Hartland takes readers behind the scenes, this time at the Smithsonian Museum, as a newly discovered Diplodocus is unearthed in Utah, transported to Washington, DC, assembled, and prepared for display. On the opening spread, a docent shares general background information on the dinosaur exhibit as a young boy asks “So, how did the dinosaur actually get to the museum?” A second spread of vignettes covers the 65 million years of geologic change leading up to 1923, the year the fossil was discovered. A cumulative recitation of the story behind the exhibit completes the story line. From “dinosaur hunter” to “director,” more than a dozen roles are described and then added to a growing list in a pattern mimicking the classic “The House That Jack Built.” Each job is highlighted with a unique font and decorative text box evocative of the role. The illustrations are expressive, childlike cartoons but careful readers will find plenty to pore over. Back matter provides background on the particular dinosaur, the real people involved, stats on the Diplodocus, and web links to the museum and quarry, now known as Dinosaur National Monument. A clear explanation is never given for “double-beamed bones” in the background information but young dinosaur hunters won’t be deterred.–Carol S. Surges, Longfellow Middle School, Wauwatosa, WI

About The Author/Artist

Jessie Hartland is an illustrator, cartoonist, artist, packaging designer, and window display designer with a worldwide clientele. She is the author and illustrator of Clementine in the City and the illustrator of Messing Around on the Monkey BarsThe Perfect Puppy for Me and Drawing with Scissors. She lives with her family in New York City and Bellport, Long Island.


Jacketed hardcover. For ages 6 and up.


USA 17.99 | Canada 19.99

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