GeekDad: Smithsonian Coloring Books: Learn About Dinosaurs, Airplanes, and More


Adult coloring books have been all the rage for a while now. I drooled over a number of them a few years ago. But these days, more types of coloring books are emerging that appeal to adults and children alike.

The Smithsonian has recently launched a series of coloring books that dive into targeted passions. Out now are their first books, covering dinosaurs and airplanes, but later this year they’ll have books for birds, sea creatures, and spacecraft, all meticulously put together in partnership with one or more of the Smithsonian museums or organizations.

I got to try out Airplanes: A Smithsonian Coloring Book and Dinosaurs: A Smithsonian Coloring Book, giving them each a test color. These books are lovely, with incredible line art to color on the right side of each spread with plenty of facts on the left side about what’s in the picture. The left side is color-able as well, with a frame around the facts that matches the theme on the right. The dust jacket of each book comes off and the inside of that is also able to be colored.

Click to view slideshow.

In Airplanes, the box of facts for each of the 38 airplanes includes the plane’s model, year, inventor/manufacturer, country of origin, wingspan/rotor diameter, size, weight, materials, top speed, key traits, and key accomplishments, along with some text that gives even more information. This book is illustrated by John Pirtel and includes planes from the National Air and Space Museum’s collection, ranging from the late 1800s to well-known planes and helicopters of the 1900s to the dawn of the 21st century, focusing pretty heavily on early aircraft and fighter aircraft. They’re included in more or less chronological order, and most illustrations are action shots, so there is plenty of scenery to color along with the flying machine. Some fun inclusions: the Wright Flyer, the “Spirit of St. Louis,” the Douglas DC-3, the “Enola Gay,” the “Huey,” and the Concorde.

Click to view slideshow.

In Dinosaurs, the box of facts for each of the 38 dinosaurs includes the dinosaur’s name, a pronunciation guide, the dinosaur name’s meaning, the dinosaur’s size and weight, time period, environment, dietary strategy, and key traits, along with more detail in a text description. Illustrated by Rachel Curtis, this book includes dinosaurs from all over the Cretaceous, Triassic, and Jurassic periods, but they are not listed in chronological order. It includes dinosaurs from all over the world, including land dwellers, water creatures, and some dinosaurs that flew. The scenes are engaging and there are also color-able sections around the text. In addition to the staples of triceratops, allosaurus, and tyranosaurus, the book includes dinosaurs such as troodon, parasaurolophus, staurikosaurus, and utahraptor.

I can only assume that the upcoming coloring books will have similar features as these two.

My coloring attempt.

These books are gorgeous with compelling artwork, scenes, and facts. The paper is quite thick, so you could color with your choice of crayons, colored pencils, inks, or even watercolors. But the books don’t lay flat, so for inks or watercolors, you might want to try removing the page from the book. Other than not laying flat, though, I have nothing negative to say about these books. I love the focused theming, perfect to match up with people who have targeted interests. I love the obvious thought that the Smithsonian folks put into these books with their engrossing scenery and just the right number of facts. And I especially love how these books have value to the reader, even before they start coloring.

I recommend any of the coloring books in the A Smithsonian Coloring Book line to people who love dinosaurs, airplanes, birds, spacecraft, or sea creatures. They’re great for rainy days, lockdown days, or any days, really. I look forward to seeing what else the Smithsonian has up their metaphorical sleeve.

Note: I received copies of these books for review purposes. This post contains affiliate links.

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