Can a dinosaur come out on top when he tries to tackle all kinds of new things at school?
Meeting new friends? Not a problem—just smile. Dressing up? He’s got that (and style too— sombrero, swim fins and a police uniform). Glitter, glue and googly eyes? He now sports 19 eyes. He is equally adept at making both a snack and music. But what about when it’s time to clean up? The design of the book plays a large part in the action. Every other right-hand page segues the red dino from one victory to the next thing he tries. Still sporting three googly eyes, he marches off the right side of the page, “Dinosaur versus….” A turn of the page reveals “monkey snacks! // ROAR! / Roar, raisins! / Roar, apples!” Another page turn, and “DINOSAUR WINS!”; the tummy-rubbing dino saunters off to the next battle. But while Shea’s indomitable red T. Rex has experienced many victories (Dinosaur vs. Santa, 2012, etc.), he comes up a little short here. The book nicely introduces the types of activities those new to school will participate in, but the digital mixed-media illustrations are so jumbled and manic that readers won’t get a clear sense of them.
Still, Shea’s concept of “winning” at school clearly has to do with self-confidence, determination and, sometimes, teamwork—a winning idea indeed. (Picture book. 3-6)