This humorous picture book imagines what would happen if you asked for help with birthday party preparations and participation from dinosaurs. Although this scenario is obviously totally imaginary, the names and illustrations of the dinosaurs are up-to-date and informative. The children’s favorites, like tyrannosaurus rex, iguanadon, and stegosaurus are there, but some may be new to the reader such as deinocheirus, argentinosaurus, and aliopleurodon.
I like the fact that a brother and sister are having a birthday together. They look as though they could be twins. Hopefully this will entice boys to read the book as much as girls. When the children solicit the dinosaurs’ help, they discover that the rezinosaurus cannot blow up balloons without popping them with his long claws and a tanystropheus will become entangled in the decorations due to his long neck. Each page is filled with humorous situations featuring dinosaurs trying to do the impossible.
I was pleased to find a small glossary at the back with an interesting fact or two about each of the dinosaurs. For example, the argentinosaurus was probably the heaviest of all weighing as much as 1500 people.
What makes this a cut above similar books is the tight and inventive rhyming. The reader cannot help but be impressed at Esenwine’s mastery of rhyme and rhythm using long and complex dinosaur names. “Don’t ask an ankylosaurus to come in through the gate or a tanystropheus to help you decorate.”
The illustrations effectively portray the children’s frustration and laughter at the unfolding disaster. The text is seamlessly superimposed over the full page spreads.
Kids who like Robert Munsch, dinosaurs, or books about party disasters will love Don’t Ask a Dinosaur.
The authors will be interviewed April 25, 2018.
This picture book is a hardcover 8 by 10 . The illustrations grab the reader’s attention. They’re made with acrylic paint and black ink and fill the pages with bright colors. The cover shows a child frightened and hiding below a blanket. From the title and picture, it seemed the book would mostly be about monsters but they actually play a fairly small part.
I had mixed feelings about this book so I decided to solicit my granddaughter’s opinion. She’s almost 5 years old but listens to a wide variety of books, some for much older children. The book held her interest throughout.
Lily is a child who loves imagining. She practices making pictures with her mind. She snaps an imaginary shot like a camera but she also has a camera hanging around her neck in several of the pictures. From the author’s note at the back, I figured out this was a cardboard camera. My granddaughter and I were unsure whether she was literally taking pictures.
The line between reality and imagining is difficult to discern in this book. Lily starts to make excuses for the disappearance of her mother’s silver mirror and her dad’s deck of cards by blaming it on the monsters in her room. Has her imagination taken over to the point where she is using it to excuse things she’s not supposed to do? We weren’t sure what was happening. She even blames the monsters for eating her homework. She throws away her camera.
But then she has a magical dream where in, “I didn’t remember seeing any more scary monsters! I just remembered all the fun I had with my camera by my side.” She decides to reconnect with her imagination and from that point on, she controls what she dreams. The monsters are no longer scary and she doesn’t let them get her into trouble.
We decided that the story was telling us to use our imagination but to not let it run away with us. We had an interesting discussion about whether we could really control our dreams.
Durability five stars. These toys are tough. They’ve been banged together, dropped, and thrown into boxes without chipping, cracking, or flaking.
Play quality four stars. The dolls will provide hours of fun. The girls are from diverse backgrounds. There are enough clothes to provide a variety of scenarios of imaginative play. The dolls could even fit in a Barbie doll house or a cardboard box construction of the child’s own creation. Although the dolls are not bendable, they are suited to children who are not ready for the fine motor control it takes to dress and play with Barbie style dolls. The dolls seem to be 10 or 11 years old and the clothes are suited to a younger girl. I wanted more variety though.
I found that it was easy for me to make a template for my granddaughters to use to create their own clothes. We made party dresses, pajamas, and and career clothes. The sky is the limit.
nightgown, onesie pjs, party dress, ball gown
Safety four stars. The dolls are suitable for children to play with who are three years old and up and no longer put small objects into their mouths. However, the box is heavy and awkward for a child to carry.
Age interest five stars. At first children will be happy just to play with the dolls. Older girls may become interested in designing clothes. I recommend using Bristol board or heavy printer paper and gluing at least three magnets on the back of a dress. There may be other dolls that are easier to design for since these ones do not have their arms separate from their body. One way to get the clothing to fit properly is to scan the doll on your computer, print it out on heavy paper, then cut out the doll completely removing the purple background. Make sure the child traces outside the body when making clothing.
astronaut, judge, police officer, ballerina
Storage and portability three stars The original dolls and clothing can be stored in the box. The lid does not stay on so you will have to tie a strap to keep it in place. Once you add clothing of your own design, the little nooks quickly fill up and you will have to add something else to store them. It’s already heavy and awkward to store and carry.
Price four stars. On Amazon the price varied from $20-$38. Personally I think $25 is reasonable for this product. If your child shows an early interest in older dolls or, later, is really into designing clothes for her own dolls, this is a wonderful little toy.
This children’s picture book has a comic book feel in that dialogue bubbles are used throughout. The illustrations by Holbrough are quirky pen and watercolour featuring highly individualized characters.
Rinny is a little girl who is ignored by the adults in her judgemental and delusional community. They blame all their problems on the monster who lives on the hill instead of recognizing their own complicity. (The monster is actually a kind giant.) The town is filled with factories polluting the air so much that eventually the townspeople are unable to move due to the toxicity. Because Rinny is small, she is below the smog line and because the giant is so tall, he is above it. Together they try to solve the problem and the giant sacrifices his health by inhaling all the poisonous fumes. When Rinny explains what has happened to the reawakened townspeople, they change their attitude and their lifestyle.
This book touches on a lot of important topics such as self-sacrifice, delusion, responsibility, and care of the environment. There are humorous moments to lighten the heavy message such as her family’s preoccupation with feet.
The vocabulary and length of text is suited to children aged seven and up. This unusual book is well worth a look.