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

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  708 Ratings  ·  122 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
36 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Like many youngsters, I adore nonfiction books about individuals who were rather quirky and carved their own unique paths through life. In this picture book biography, the author tells the fascinating story of Barnum Brown who was a fossil hunter. Not only did the scientist have an unusual name, but he was fascinated with the fossils he found near his home, and not surprisingly, grew up to collect dinosaur bones for the American Museum of Natural History. Readers will enjoy the fact that he some ...more
Feb 08, 2015 Courtney rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 3-5-lit
Barnum's Bones is a Realistic Fiction book about a man named Barnum who became infatuated with fossils at a young age. We follow Barnum through his life where he travels the world searching for bones of dinosaurs. He becomes really close with a professor and works to put the bone fragments together for museum displays. Barnum shows drive and perseverance by continuing to push forward and work day in and day out to put together the pieces of many dinosaurs. At one point, he is in competition with ...more
Apr 28, 2016 Julie rated it it was amazing
My 2nd grade daughter and I have read a ridiculous amount of illustrated biographies this year, and this is absolutely the best one we've found. I will confess, I'd never even heard of Barnum Brown before this read, and now I feel that I know him, and I wouldn't object to knowing him better through an adult version of his biography.

I'm not just recommending this for kids who are "dinosaur lovers." Not one member of my family is particularly interested in old bones, but the writing and the illust
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
Feb 04, 2016 Autumn rated it it was amazing
This book was the most uncommon nonfiction book I have ever read. Your first instinct when looking at the book is that it is a fiction book. Their is no table of contents, highlighted text, or even little captions with facts in them. It looks like a typical story book with large illustrations with small text in certain corners of the page, but once you start to read it you realize it is a biography about Braburn Brown. The text contains many facts about Brown's life right from the start. The fir ...more
Jul 20, 2012 Carol rated it really liked it
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!
Oct 31, 2012 Kermit rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 28, 2014 Shannon rated it really liked it
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
Jun 09, 2014 Tara rated it really liked it
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
Edward Sullivan
May 13, 2012 Edward Sullivan rated it really liked it
A lively, spirited introduction to the intrepid fossil hunter.
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
I Heart Corgis
Nov 20, 2012 I Heart Corgis rated it really liked it
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
Nov 11, 2013 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 02, 2013 Mary Kay rated it really liked it
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
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
Feb 03, 2014 Deborah rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
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!
Sep 04, 2012 Tasha rated it really liked it
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
Jun 19, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
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
Dec 05, 2013 Jan rated it liked it
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
Jim Erekson
Apr 11, 2013 Jim Erekson rated it really liked it
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
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
Apr 26, 2013 Christine Turner rated it liked it
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
Gena Lott
Sep 25, 2014 Gena Lott rated it really liked it
This is a fun biography about an adventurer and paleontologist, Barnum Brown who discovered the T. Rex. It has fun text and illustrations. Great as a read aloud or for a student who loves dinosaurs.
Third grade and up.
May 27, 2015 Barbara rated it really liked it
Excellent non-fiction story for kids that focuses on the discovery of TRex. The illustrations are illuminating and if the kids don't know what dinosaur they found till the end the big reveal is that much more powerful!
Kathy Ellen Davis
Mar 07, 2013 Kathy Ellen Davis rated it it was amazing
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
Karen Dransfield
Jul 28, 2015 Karen Dransfield rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book
A great informative picture book about how Barnum Brown discovered the most famous of all the dinosaurd, the T-Rex. It's a true story based on his life. A great read for dinosaur crazed kids.
Dec 10, 2012 Samantha rated it really liked it
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
Claudia  Fett
Oct 01, 2012 Claudia Fett rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, science
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
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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 about Tracey E. Fern...

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