Two poems, a finger-puppet project and a foldout mini-story fail to compensate for undistinguished art and a cursory sprinkling of dino-facts in this Dutch import.
The book begins by uninformatively noting that dinosaurs lived “a very, very, very long time ago” and takes more pains to bring up dino-dung and related topics (“Did the huge Diplodocus let out loud farts? What do you think?”) than to explore what fossilization is or how dinosaurs may have gone extinct. The author scatters unrelated facts and vague generalizations over drably colored prehistoric scenes populated by cartoonish creatures in static poses. Likewise undistinguished, the poems are prosaic (at least in their English translations), the puppet instructions are hard to follow, and a closing quiz features badly phrased questions like, “How does the dinosaur investigator clean skeleton bones?” And the mini-story is as focused on excrement and elimination as the main text.
A non-starter, despite the subject’s ever-enduring allure.
(Informational picture book. 6-8)
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)
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)