A plucky dinosaur uses her brains and creativity to save her family from a fiery volcano.
Samanthasaurus Rex is on the quirky side, for a dinosaur. Her family members want her to be strong, to lead, and to make lots of noise, but she prefers painting animals over chasing them, sorting bones over gnawing on them, and using her words over biting and fighting. When the family goes for a hike, instead of whacking branches, scouting trails, and stomping out geysers, Samanthasaurus weaves ferns to make a rope, collects rocks, and uses a diamond to harness energy. The little dinosaur soon discovers that the mountain they are climbing is actually a volcano, and, predictably, she uses her rope, her diamond, and her loudest roar to save her oblivious family and get them back to safety. The detailed illustrations flesh out the otherwise sparse and stilted narrative, depicting Samanthasaurus (pink, natch) carrying a stack of books and teaching a class, for example. All told, the message here is a positive one about valuing all types of interests and leadership styles. Unfortunately, though, it suffocates this effort, leaving the characters and plot with no spark of life or sense of authenticity.
Skip this one, and choose instead something featuring both a strong, resourceful girl and a story worthy of her. (Picture book. 3-7)