A cute concept with illustrations to match, despite the disconnect between the simple story and the complex second half.

When Dinosaurs go Dancing

 Two paleontologists theorize that fossilized footprints are leftovers from a prehistoric dinosaur dance party in this children’s picture book.

In Cook’s debut, the first in a planned series called Listen to the Bones, dinosaurs waltz, tango, and shuffle. Instead of running from predators or migrating across lands, they time-step, double pirouette, and bunny hop. They wear top hats and bow ties, flowers on their heads, and decorations on their tails. They’re very polite about it all—at charity balls, they nod and bow—and they’re graceful, too, as they sway gently under the moonlight. After 22 pages of simple prose and full-page illustrations, however, the book switches gears and becomes a “learning centre” with explanatory paragraphs about the various dances and dinosaurs in the preceding story. There are facts about fossil collections around the world and famous paleontologists as well as other lessons for young readers: the book tells of the young 18th-century fossil collector Mary Anning and points out that “Earth is the only home we have, so let’s take care of it!” Nadeau’s illustrations, which include a ferocious Tyrannosaurus rex in a pink tutu, are colorful, clever treats, and the whimsical, sometimes-diagonal typesetting is also a lot of fun. The rhyming prose in the book’s first half is simple, exuberant, and suitable for toddlers and early grade schoolers alike. The second half, however, is more appropriate for older children, as the descriptions of dances (the waltz is “performed to music in 3/4 time,” while the minuet is a “stately dance, elegant in its simplicity”) and historical terminology clash with the earlier, more basic language. As a result, young readers will likely enjoy one half of the book more than the other.

A cute concept with illustrations to match, despite the disconnect between the simple story and the complex second half. 

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4602-7725-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2015

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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