A lighthearted if unremarkable (and perhaps a bit outdated?) addition to the epistolary genre.




From the Dear Dinosaur series

A T. Rex and a 6-year-old fan with questions strike up a lively correspondence.

At the suggestion of a curator, young Max writes a fan letter to his favorite dino at the museum and gets a fierce reply: “I do NOT write nice letters to small children. I eat them.” Not daunted, Max continues to send chatty queries—some of which, along with T. Rex’s first letter, are glued-in sheets or cards. T. Rex loosens up in later exchanges, receives Max’s gifts of a lost tooth and a “Sausagesaurus” (a rubber duck, as it turns out) with thanks, and, in a final email message, promises not to eat him when he visits again. Sticking to more traditional media, Max at the end crafts a home-made greeting card to proclaim that the two will be “Dinopals forever!” Though T. Rex’s stationery comes from a fictitious museum in South Carolina, the post boxes in the illustrations and the overall tone of the language reflect this import’s British origins. Like Max and his interracial parents (dark-skinned dad, light-skinned mum), the dinosaurs exhibited in the museum are mostly smiling figures in O’Byrne’s brightly colored cartoons.

A lighthearted if unremarkable (and perhaps a bit outdated?) addition to the epistolary genre. (Novelty. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7641-6898-7

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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Gift items for confirmed young enthusiasts, with a substantial but not wearisome informational load.


From the Smithsonian Young Explorers series

In lunchbox-style packaging, a booklet of dino facts and a prehistoric panorama are presented on both a folded poster and a jigsaw puzzle.

Strother devotes 10 of her 32 pages to ornithischian, or bird-hipped, dinosaurs (correctly noting that they are not the ancestors of modern birds). She also manages to survey the Mesozoic Era in general, introduce a few theropods, describe fossilization, and present up-to-date information about dinosaur colors and extinction theories. All of this is crammed onto thematic spreads with small paintings and photos of fossils or generic images of fleshed-out reconstructions in minimally detailed settings. Francis contributes a collective portrait of dinosaurs of diverse size and period posing together over a labeled timeline. This can be hung up and, as a 130-piece jigsaw, assembled. Also available from the same author and illustrator, and likewise in a round-corned box with a carrying handle and snap close, is Oceans, a densely populated dive into the deep.

Gift items for confirmed young enthusiasts, with a substantial but not wearisome informational load. (Informational novelty. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62686-145-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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A bland but amiable iteration.


Yet another child learns that dinosaurs make exciting, if chancy, pets.

On the prowl for a pet, Danny walks past shop windows displaying puppies and kittens to enter the titular storefront…where “Mr. Ree, purveyor of prehistoric pets,” offers him any dino he might desire. Unfortunately his first pick, Diplodocus longus, eats half a ton of veggies per day; his second, Tyrannosaurus rex (“Ooh, brave choice”), is too, well, “drooly”; and later ones—unnamed but brightly patterned, smiling, and recognizably depicted in Brown’s cartoon scenes—prove likewise impractical or unsatisfactory. (Confirmed dinophiles might be able to tag the unidentified beasts, but there is no key for paleontological newbies.) Condon works the well-worn premise to a happy resolution, as the pet Danny finally brings home in a box turns out to be not an ordinary tortoise, as his mother thinks at first sight, but a spiky-tailed, tortoiselike Meiolania from the Middle Miocene, small enough to pick up…at first, anyway. Aside from a background figure in one scene, the human cast is uniformly white. José Carlos Andrés and Ana Sanfelippo’s Adopting a Dinosaur (2019), Jason Cockcroft’s How To Take Care of Your Dinosaur (2019), and Diego Vaisberg’s Dino (2018) are but three recent examples of the superior treatments available.

A bland but amiable iteration. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-84886-474-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Maverick Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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