When Dinosaurs Die by Laurie Krasny Brown (An H4HK Review)

dinosaurs dieAbout the Book

When Dinosaurs Die is part of the series of books by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown that also includes Dinosaurs Divorce – A Guide For Changing Families which we also highly recommend. It is a colorful and well written explanation of death and grief designed to help give kids who have lost a loved information about what is going on.

Who Is This Book For?

This book is aimed primarily at kids in first through third grade though younger and older kids who have experienced a death will most definitely benefit from reading the book or having it read to them.

Our Synopsis of the Book

When Dinosaurs Die is a thorough yet accessible explanation of death and grieving for kids. It is divided into ten sections:

  1. What Does Alive Mean?
  2. Why Does Someone Die?
  3. What Does Dead Mean?
  4. Feelings About Death
  5. Among Friends
  6. Saying Good-bye
  7. Keeping Customs
  8. What Comes after Death?
  9. Ways to Remember Someone
  10. Glossary

The book answers common questions that kids may have when they are grieving the loss of of loved one. It is very engaging with wonderful illustrations that kids will enjoy. Terms like death are defined in a way that kids can understand without talking down to them or minimizing the impact of grief. Take, for example, the book’s definition of death:

When someone dies, her body stops working. The heart stops beating, and breathing stops. The brain doesn’t send or receive messages. She no longer can see, hear, touch, taste, smell, eat, play, feel or think. She cannot move.

The books explains various ways that people can die, and while it’s impossible to cover all possible causes of death, the book does a good job of exploring some of the common ways people can die that kids may encounter.  The book deals with common misconceptions like how death is different than sleeping and makes the finality of death clear. It also includes explanations of what a funeral is, the various rituals that people may go through to remember the person who died and how your friends might react to the death of your loved one. There is also an extensive discussion of the emotions go along with grief and how all of those emotions are ok. It also includes suggestions for coping.

Amazon’s Synopsis

Here’s how Amazon describes the book:

Straightforward and compassionate, When Dinosaurs Die explains death, dying, and coping with grief and loss in simple and accessible language for young kids and families.

No one can really understand death, but to children, the passing away of a loved one can be especially perplexing and troublesome. This is true whether the loss is a classmate, friend, family member, or pet. Here to offer advice and reassurance are the wise dinosaurs from Dinosaurs to the RescueDinosaurs DivorceDinosaurs Travel, and Dinosaurs Alive and Well. This succinct and thorough guide helps dispel the mystery and negative connotations associated with death. This helpful book provides answers to kids’ most-often asked questions and also explores the feelings we may have regarding the death of a loved one, and the ways to remember someone after he or she has died.

Satisfying and comprehensive, this indispensable book is a comforting aid to help all children through a difficult time in their lives.

What We Liked

This book does an awesome job of helping kids to understand death and dying as well as mourning. The illustrations are top-notched. The tone of the book is informational without being condescending or dry. One of the things the book does extraordinarily well is address the different faith traditions and beliefs surrounding death and what happens after death while encouraging kids to ask questions. No book can make grief easy, but When Dinosaurs Die can take some of the mystery out of death and grief for kids.

What We Didn’t Like

Honestly, we couldn’t find anything about this book that we didn’t like.


We highly recommend When Dinosaurs Die for any child who is grieving the death of a loved one. In fact, it ranks in our top three books for grieving kids.

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Written by Wayne Stocks
Wayne is the founder and executive director of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. He is a happily married father of four kids with a passion for helping young people who are going through rough times. In addition to Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne previously started I Am A Child of Divorce and Divorce Ministry 4 Kids to help kids who are dealing with the disruption of their parents' relationship. These are now part of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Wayne speaks frequently at conferences and churches on issues related to helping kids learn to deal with difficult emotions and life in modern families. Wayne lives with his wife, three youngest kids, three dogs and an insane collection of his kids' other pets outside of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to his work with Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne is a partner in a local consulting firm, an avid reader, coaches his son's soccer team and is a proud supporter of Leicester City Football Club (and yes, for those in know, his affinity for the club does predate the 2016 championship). You can reach Wayne at wayne@hope4hurtingkids.com.