Barnum's Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Barnum's Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  446 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Barnum Brown's (1873-1963) parents named him after the circus icon P.T. Barnum,hoping that he would do something extraordinary--and he did! As a paleonotologist for the American Museum of Natural History, he discovered the first documentedskeleton of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, as well as most of the other dinosaurs on display there today.
An appealing andfun picture book biogra...more
36 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Barnum's Bones, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Barnum's Bones

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 699)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Barnum Brown was named after the famous circus owner P.T. Barnum, and his favorite objects to collect were fossils. Apparently, he found more fossils and dinosaur bones than anyone else in the late 19th century, and he was hired by Henry Fairfield Osborn to find them for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Most of the book deals with the plentiful and unique finds he made throughout his life, some of which you can still see today if you go to the museum. A note at the end of...more
When I first picked this book up I thought it was going to be about P.T. Barnum (I didn't read the subtitle) but it turns out it’s about Barnum Brown who discovered T. Rex and many more dinosaur bones. I had never heard of him before and found this fascinating. The story is brought to life by the illustrations of Boris Kulikov, who is one of my favorite children's book illustrators. Well done!
4.1 stars
Kids will probably really like reading this short, easy book about dinosaur bones. I got the title from a list of best nonfiction for kids. Born in 1873, Barnum Brown was named after the famous circus person. As a boy in Kansas, he loved to search through plowed fields looking for small fossils. He grew up to be the most prolific fossil hunter in history. He discovered, dug up, and re-assembled the first Tyrannosaurus rex.
I shared this with a second grade class as part of a local Read Across America celebration this morning. It was a big hit. The illustrations are eye catching and, though the story is a little wordy for second graders, held their attention. It tells the tale of Barnum Brown, his life as a paleontologist and his discovery of the first T-rex fossils. Children still love dinosaurs as much as they did when I was a kid. This book is an excellent addition to any library's dinosaur selections. Though I...more
This book tells the story of Barnum Brown and how he discovered the first dinosaur skeletons for the American Museum of Natural History, including the world's first T-Rex, which took six years to uncover all the bones, and then another seven years to clean and mount the skeleton! The illustrations are fun. Endpages at the beginning of the book show Barnum's letters back and forth with the professor at the museum. The endpages at the end include the back matter (author's note, bibliography, and c...more
Pat (Get Kids to Read) Tierney
Barnum's Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World
by Tracey Fern
File Size: 10701 KB
Print Length: 36 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (May 28, 2013)
Sold by: Macmillan
Language: English

This review is also posted on Get Kids to Read:

Barnum's Bones tells the story of Barnum Brown, the paleontologist who discovered the first fossil of a T Rex. Barnum was very interested in the dinosaur bones that were being...more
I Heart Corgis
Grade/interest level: 3-7th grade
Lexile level: 1010L
Genre: Biography, nonfiction
Main Characters: Barnum Brown
Setting: various places in the world where Barnum dug for bones
POV: 3rd person

This biographical book is about the paleontologist Barnum Brown. Barnum was born in 1873. He was strange from the start, collecting fossils and filling up his bedroom from the time he was a toddler. When he was old enough, he studied paleontology at university. He went on many expeditions, uncovering dinosaur bo...more
The illustrations and story of P.T. Barnum from his youth are brought alive to the reader. Barnum started collecting fossils, bones etc. when he was young. He continued this hobby through his life and traveled the world in the search for the oldest and biggest dinosaur. He spent a lot of time searching in South Dakota and Wyoming for his dinosaur. When Professor Osborn wanted dinosaur bones for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, Barnum found within one year four and a half...more
Mary Kay
Beautifully illustrated non-fiction that tells the tale of a young paleontologist's journey as he follows his fascination with fossils.
Named for the circus Barnum, this interesting man sometimes searched in full dress coat and bowler hat, while trying to fulfill his dream of finding a new species.
This story is a great read aloud, because although he seemed to be charmed with finding "bones" his path was not an easy one. He met with hardships.... yet kept on pursuing his dream.
Be sure to read th...more
Barnum Brown was always destined for something great. His parents named him after the great P.T. Barnum, but Barnum's life was not to be in the circus. His love was fossils. He spent all his time as a child gathering fossils and he continued his quest as an adult. He was recruited by the American Museum of Natural History to bring dinosaur fossils to the museum. And bring them he did. When he started they did not have any dinosaur bones and when he died the museum had the largest collection in t...more
Maybe I should give it a 4? There is a lot more text on a page than is normal for a picture book, so that is the reason for the 3: I don't think it would make a good read-aloud in class. The dinosaur lovers will like to read it by themselves, though. The beauty of this book is the sentence fluency. Some really lovely passages here to teach parallelism, cohesion, polysyndeton, sentence variety, participial phrases, and more. Excerpts would work great!
Barnum Brown was fascinated with fossils from the time he was a toddler following behind his father’s plow. His collection got so large, it outgrew his bedroom and he was forced to move out to the laundry house with his finds. In college, Barnum got to go on digs in the summers of 1894 and 1895 in South Dakota and Wyoming. Barnum got a reputation for being a great bone hunter, collecting more than 1400 pounds of bones! The American Museum of Natural History in New York City didn’t have a dinosau...more
This one is all about the art, which is very cool. I like the white outlines of the dinos and the story illustrated almost as a background. But the text is blah for me. The gist I got: Barnum was weird, had a demanding boss, he found dinosaurs. I think that this would have been more interesting if the focus had been more on the dinos he discovered. Not how he got funded to find them. Don't get me wrong a budding paleontologist or archaeologist might love this but a little kid who just wants to s...more
Kellie Deruwe
Barnums Bones is a non-fiction story about a man named Barnum Brown who spent his life searching for bones and discovering new dinosaurs. Barnum made huge strides as a paleontologist. Barnum was the first person to discover the bones of a T-Rex dinosaur.
This would be a great book to introduce students to non-fiction. Many times students turn away from non-fiction because they have not been exposed to interesting, and fun non-fiction stories. This book would also be great to use for a whole clas...more
Barnum Brown, an somewhat eccentric fossil hunter, led many fossil expeditions in the early 1900's. He sent his collections to the American Museum of Natural History, though he become more and more focused on finding a new species. Finally, he discovered the first Tyrannosaurus Rex, which he followed with a discovery of a nearly complete specimen.

I didn't love the style of this book. The language and narrative were fairly simple but the text itself was pretty long. It would make a great read alo...more
What a marvelous cover Boris Kulikov has created for this book! A gaping Tyrannosaurus jaw, with a small, bowler-hatted man inside it, chipping out the gargantuan skull. And Kulikov's page illustrations are no less fascinating. His picture of a completed T. rex skeleton is luminous with the light shining in the museum windows behind it. The pictures are the true pleasure of the book, and every young dinosaur lover will pore over them.

The text, on the other hand, is dry even in the few high point...more
Jim Erekson
Kulikov's illustrations show a cinematic talent for laying out the scenes using techniques like the odd camera angle and the montage. Visually this book is very interesting because of the variety of work he does with these techniques page to page.

Fern's story is engaging. She tells in her end notes which elements she had to fictionalize, and which came from sources. Between Fern, her editors, and the designer, they decided to put the outside sources on the very end sheet, pasted to the cover bo...more
I wanted to like this book so much more than I ended up liking it. The telling of the story was a bit disjointed, which really impacted the overall appeal to me. And the pictures were likewise a bit scattered, sometimes making it difficult to figure out which pictures of bones applied to which text reference...
Christine Turner
2013-2014 BBL

The exciting and unusual story of how Barnum Brown uncovered the bones of the Tyrannosaurus rex. Barnum Brown's (1873-1963) parents named him after the circus icon P.T. Barnum, hoping that he would do something extraordinary--and he did! As a paleontologist for the American Museum of Natural History, he discovered the first documented skeleton of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, as well as most of the other dinosaurs on display there today. An appealing and fun picture book biography, with za...more
Kathy Ellen Davis
Such a cool story!
It's amazing to think that these skeletons were only discovered 100 or so years ago...since I just remember seeing them at museums when I was a kid.

I LOVED this story.
Even though it concentrated more on Barnum Brown's life as an adult, the scenes where he was a child were very telling and easy to relate to. I could just picture his room full of shells and objects he would find.

The illustrations are great, the pacing is awesome, and I loved learning more in the author note.
A rea...more
A fascinating picture book biography about Barnum Brown, the man who unearthed the first Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. Brown was a quirky boy and grew into a quirky man and the illustrations do a great job of showcasing this incredible man and adding interest and excitement to this topic. The use of white space in the artwork is amazing. I especially loved the two page spread in which the text is framed in a white space shaped like a Triceratops.

An author’s note that provides some additional inte...more
Claudia  Fett
Barnum Brown collected fossils as a young boy on his family farm in Kansas, but he dreamed of finding dinosaurs! Barnum worked for the American Museum of Natural History and discovered the first dinosaur skeleton for the museum. In 1902, Barnum was hunting dinosaurs in the badlands of Montana when he came upon the bones of Tyrannosaurus Rex! Barnum went on to collect more dinosaur bones than anyone of earth, and T. rex became the most famous dinosaur in the world. The illustrations complete the...more
I did not know of this story or this person before. In fact, I've never really thought about the beginnings of dinosaur bone discovery. It must have been much more challenging then and it was interesting to see a bit of that reflected in the book. I think my favorite part were the illustrations, especially how the dinosaur bones were "fit" to the different modes of transportation. Kids should enjoy this in a read-alone, or a lap-read. School-age will be interested, as well as dino-lovers. A bit...more
This book is classified as a dinosaur book, but it really is a biography of Barnum Brown, and archeologist specializing in dinosaur bones. The pictures were clever, humorous, and entertaining. However, the most interesting information is in the author's note. In the notes it mentions several wonderful adventures including how he encountered a giant spider while hunting dinosaur bones. I would like to have seen this information in the body of the book. Yet the text focuses on the dinosaur he disc...more
Interesting bio of a 19th century fossil collector. The drawings are fun and interesting and the writing is accessible, even to reluctant readers.
I have to admit I had never heard of Barnum when I picked up this book, but I enjoyed the tale of a man who had a gift for sniffing out dinosaur bones.

Although biographies can often be dry reads, this book moves quickly with Barnum's finds and puts a personal perspective on the fossils that fill our museums. The illustrations convey the excitement Barnum and his colleagues must have felt when they found the bones.

This book is on the Texas Bluebonnet List, a list voted on by 3rd-6th graders acr...more
Stacy Ford
Barnum Brown had a knack for finding bones, DINOSAUR BONES!

This biography offers a detailed account of how and why Barnum Brown discovered some of the most famous dinosaurs we know of today.

Barnum hunted for bones all over the world, but some of his most famous finds were discovered right here in the U.S.A. The text is quickly moving and paired with double spread illustrations. This biography is not too long and will be digestible for students.

Includes and authors note and a selected bibliograph...more
I realize that picture book biographies are constrained by a certain number of pages, but I feel like this one was very uneven in terms of summarizing swathes of time (journey and shipwreck) v. including little details (picking up some leaves). As I read, I had questions that I wish had been answered in an author's note:

- When did people start studying fossils?
- Where were the first dinosaur bones discovered?
- Why was natural history such a big deal at this time in history?
- Why did it take seve...more
Barnum Brown loved his job traveling to the American West and to South America searching for dinosaur bones and fossils. His boss, who worked for the American Museum of Natural History, believed that Barnum could "smell fossils." Still - Barnum wanted to find a new dinosaur. Read about how he finally did uncover the most famous dinosaur of all - T-Rex. This book is a nice step up for kids who have enjoyed Byron Barton's books "Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs" and "Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones." There's a g...more
Charlyn  Trussell
Apr 09, 2013 Charlyn Trussell rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Grades 2 and up
Recommended to Charlyn by: Texas Bluebonnet Reading List 2013-14
Barnum Brown was a unique individual: he began to collect fossils he found at an early age; sometimes he wore a hat, suit and fur coat on his digs; he collected more dinosaur bones than anyone in the world; and he was named for P. T. Barnum. Brown’s accomplishments are wonderfully displayed in this book with illustrations by Boris Kulikov. His life is interesting alone, but Kulikov’s illustrations add both whimsy and a bit of fantasy to the narrative. Perhaps together they will lead some child t...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 23 24 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Looking at Lincoln
  • Coral Reefs
  • Jangles: A Big Fish Story
  • Henry and the Cannons: An Extraordinary True Story of the American Revolution
  • Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller
  • Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team
  • Noah Webster and His Words
  • Freaky Fast Frankie Joe
  • Monsieur Marceau: Actor Without Words
  • Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
  • Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle
  • Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break if You Want to Survive the School Bus
  • Annie and Helen
  • Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World
  • The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever
  • Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas
  • The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau
  • Nic Bishop Snakes
When I started my own family, I began to write stories for children’s magazines. One day, I found myself driving to the library to help my daughter search for her own missing Nancy Drews. I suddenly remembered that long ago day when I told my father that, yes, of course I could write a book. I decided to try. I haven’t stopped since.
I now live in Newton, Massachusetts with my husband Doug, my two...more
More about Tracey E. Fern...
Dare the Wind: The Record-breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud Buffalo Music Pippo the Fool

Share This Book