Kids really know their dinosaurs. If you don't believe me, just try to tell a young dino-phile that the big, long-necked one is called "Brontosaurus" and you are sure to get an earful. Indeed, children can be extremely attentive in their study of the prehistoric world, and sometimes they catch mistakes even adults have missed.
A few weeks ago, first grade student Emilio Lemeni checked out a book called Scutellosaurus and Other Small Dinosaurs from the library of Rosa Parks Elementary School in Woodbridge, Virgina. It featured an array of dinosaurs and included a colored key explaining whether they were herbivores or carnivores. Among the dinosaurs featured in the book was the tiny predator Bambiraptor, but Emilio thought there was something not quite right about its description. According to the School Library Journal:
“An animal attacked by a pack of these dinosaurs would have had little chance of surviving,” the book read. But when Lemeni glanced at the accompanying image at the top left corner of the page, he saw a green dinosaur, clearly an indication that it was a plant eater.
The illustration of Bambiraptor itself was fine but the key was the wrong color. Only herbivores had a green dinosaur key, and Bambiraptor certainly wasn't a peaceful plant-easter eater (Ed. Thanks Claire!). Emilio told the school librarian about this and she, in turn, called the publishing company. They acknowledged they had made a mistake and sent a letter of appreciation to Emilio, followed by a collection of dinosaur books for him and his classmates.
The publisher has also promised a correction when the book is reprinted, and they have offered another solution for those who have already purchased the book:
SLJ contacted Capstone Publishers, parent company of Picture Window, regarding the error. “We’ve come up with a 'green' option that will allow us to use the remaining stock of the title and provide customers with a more immediate fix to the mistake: a sticker,” explains company spokeswoman Jennifer Gidden. “We will be correcting our mistake upon reprint of the title."
Emilio saw something he thought was wrong, brought it up, was shown to be right, and he made his school proud. Given that Emilio has already had this practice with peer-review he could very well grow up to be a fine paleontologist if he wanted to.