Review: Old Stretchy The Dinosaur Bone Cell

by Mark Armitage and Debra Liz Beltran

Old Stretchy Cover

Click to Buy

I’ve known of Mark Armitage and his amazing Triceratops horn discovery for about a year. Then, it was exciting to see him encouraging kids to explore the microscopic world with his website Backyard Microscope.

He’s got great photos and short videos introducing us to all sorts of everyday things from the microbes in our puddles to what our toothpaste looks like up close!

So, when Armitage contacted me about his new kids’ book I was quite excited to check it out. He emailed me a PDF copy and soon I was settled on the couch reading it with my eight year old.

This is an awesome book

There wasn’t anything I needed to simplify down for my kids to understand and the message it presents is incredibly powerful.

But, before I tell you more, let me share the two problems I had with it. Both had to do with the illustrations. Debra Liz Beltran has a fun and engaging style and her pictures were part of why my kids had no trouble paying attention through 23 pages.

Illustration Armitage waiting patiently

My favorite illustration

But she also drew a bathtub Noah’s ark (to her credit, it had a Triceratops on the front deck) and Adam and Eve would have been more modest in a Speedo and bikini than how she portrayed them (if I had a paper copy, I’d glue some green bushes in front of them).

However, the rest of Beltran’s drawings are great and keep things light and kid friendly.

The main message

The story arc of this book is well done. We get to follow along on Armitage’s quest to find his own dinosaur soft tissue.

On the way we encounter a number of obstacles:

  • He couldn’t find a dinosaur leg bone like he wanted
  • The horn he did find was full of plant roots and moisture
  • He had to wait two weeks to find out if there was any original soft tissue

These difficulties make the end results all the more satisfying. We meet a fun rancher lady who helps them find the fossil they need. We get to find out how a dinosaur fossil is protected for transfer from the ground where it’s found. We discover what a scientist does to prepare a sample for study.

So, when we finally meet Old Stretchy there is a real sense of accomplishment and excitement at our find.

side by side

Osteocyte photo and illustration

Throughout the book photos are sprinkled among the illustrations. First we see the landscape the Triceratops horn was discovered in. Then we see the horn itself before and after prepping. Then we see how the samples are prepared. Finally, we get to see the real cells showing how well preserved they are.

The photos are as detailed as a scientific paper would be, but the text is way more interesting!

A sample aside page

Four times through the book we take a break from the story to cover a topic in more detail. I like how the whole style of the page is different with the look of being written on an old scroll. If a child was reading this book to themselves, it would be easy to skip over if they just want to stick to the fun stuff. At the same time the change in appearance reminds us that this isn’t just a storybook. It’s got some serious points to make.

Altogether, I put getting your hands on this book right up there at the top of my list of recommended resources. As soon as people realize there is fresh, lifelike tissue preserved in dinosaur fossils, it makes the “millions of years” story look silly.

If our kids understand this in an engaging way early, they will be well prepared for the onslaught of deep time uniformitarians barrage us with from every side.

From what Mark Armitage tells me, there is only one place to get ahold of this book: Pastor Bob Enyart’s creation webstore. I like the work he is doing and don’t mind sending you over to support him as well as Armitage.

Edited: The book is now also available at Excellence In Education for $4 less.

The price is a bit high, but that’s because you aren’t just getting the book but also a DVD for those not so much into books.

And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. Genesis 7:23