25 June 2010

Is That a T-Rex or a Stegosaurus?

If your boy likes dinosaurs, he will love the dinosaur series by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. The first book, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?, is my favorite. The rhyme is simple and flows smoothly throughout the book, making it a fun read-aloud. By the fifth book (not including the board books), as often happens with series that rely on a repeating pattern, the rhymes become a bit forced and stilted.

What really makes these books stand out are the illustrations. Mark Teague is an artist whose style is easily recognizable and his dinosaurs practically jump off the pages of the books. He also manages to insert the scientific name of each dinosaur somewhere in the illustration without detracting from the flow of the story. The dinosaurs are also drawn and labeled on the end papers for the child who likes to classify and analyze the characteristics of these extinct animals.

Weston Woods has produced an animated movie using Teague's pictures that is a companion to How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? It adds some explanation by morphing a child into a dinosaur as the story begins, thus showing the children that the dinosaurs are stand-ins for themselves. For very young children this is an element that will help them make that connection. For school-age children, however, it would have been better left out so that they could have made that comparison on their own. Overall, though, it is a fun adaptation.

Get these books while your boy is young (pre-school age). Isaac is starting to lose interest in them as superheroes and other monsters grab his attention. But he does enjoy them now and again and I will definitely be pulling out How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? this summer as we prepare for kindergarten.

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