Many young children go through a dinosaur phase, so it’s no surprise that kids’ picture books featuring friendly cartoon dinos remain as popular as when author/illustrator Syd Hoff first published the classic, Kirkus-starred Danny and the Dinosaur back in the prehistoric era of 1958. Here are five more recent tales of saurian shenanigans, all recommended by Kirkus Indie:

In The Last Surviving Dinosaur: The TyrantoCrankaTsuris (2019) by Steven Joseph with illustrations by Andy Case, a human narrator defines useful Yiddish words—including tsuris (problems) and kvetch (complain)—during a story of his Bronx upbringing. Then he launches into an amusing tale of how all humanity evolved from two cranky dinosaurs: a TyrantoKvetchaTsuris and the titular TyrantoCrankaTsuris, whose constant complaints shook the planet and made all the other dinosaurs flee into the sea. Kirkus’ reviewer writes that this book will be “laugh-out-loud funny for adults” and “a good choice for reading aloud” to youngsters.

An environmentalist theme enlivens Dinosaurs Living in My Hair! 3: An Underwater Adventure (2022), the latest series entry by Jayne M. Rose-Vallee with painted images by Bonnie Helen Hawkins. Four curly-haired kids—who, as the title promises, have tiny dinosaurs residing on their heads—have an eventful swim in the ocean. The dinos rescue a shark in trouble, while the kids learn the importance of keeping the sea free of trash. Our reviewer, in a starred review, notes that although the dinosaurs are “expressively goofy,” the “real stars…are the four diverse children whose passion for doing what’s right unites them in a cause.”

Lee LoBue’s picture book Sleepy Dinosaur and the Case of the Bedtime Roars! (2021), illustrated by Mathew Schelsky, offers the tale of a young dino who just wants to go to bed after an active day. But whenever the aptly named Sleepy Dinosaur yawns, she inadvertently lets out a huge roar that wakes her human neighbors up. Kirkus’ reviewer notes the brisk book’s humor and how the protagonist’s roaring problem is distinctly dino-centric. However, they point out that caregivers may “recognize in Sleepy Dinosaur a child who badly needs to slumber and needs help to quiet their mind.”

The Kirkus-starred A Little Bit of Dinosaur! (2021) by Elleen Hutcheson and Darcy Pattison was named as one of Kirkus Reviewsbest books of 2020, and it incorporates a dino into its narrative in an offbeat way. In the picture book, which features images by John Joven, a child is told that they have “a little bit of Tyrannosaurus rex in [their] jawbone!” The unseen narrator explains that a calcium atom in that bone was once part of a T. rex skeleton; the book follows the dinosaur through its life cycle then tracks the calcium atom over eons as it goes from a rock to a river to a cow, into milk, and into cheese, which the child eventually eats. The tale, while introducing multiple, complex concepts, reveals a solid connection between dinosaurs and humans that kids are likely to find engaging. Kirkus’ reviewer called the book “a science-centric winner, especially for young dinosaur lovers.”

David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.