Tag: dinosaurs

3 Fun-Filled Picture Books

These three picture books are wild romps of fun:

I Love You Like a Pig by Mac Barnett

I Love You Like a Pig by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli (9780062354839)

This picture book celebrates all the different forms that love can take, beginning with being loved like a pig and moving to other unique ones as well. At first they may seem silly or unlikely, but the book shows what each one means through the illustrations. The text stays very simple, offering new ways of loving: I love you like a window, I’m smiling like a tuna, and You’re sweet like a banker. Then the illustrations shows how each analogy works and brings it all to life. Barnett comes up with far-fetched analogies that then are transformed into meaning. The selections are clever and will appeal specifically to children and their experiences. Pizzoli’s bright illustrations invite readers to explore the words and find the meaning too. An ingenious book about love and delight. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from library copy.)

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABCs (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABCs (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell (9780316502467)

When the little red cat heads outside, he discovers a world of surprises and dangers that follow the ABCs. Readers will have to puzzle out what matches each letter along the way (though there is a key in the back of the book to help if you get stuck.) With a merry chase throughout the book, it has the feel of a Gingerbread Boy gallop across the pages. The book is wordless, offering only the letters along the way, providing a visual treat as the cat is joined by an alligator, a bear, a chicken, a dragon and an egg on his adventure through the alphabet. Filled with moments of humor, like the stop at the rest room for R and the lovely use of N and O, this picture book is a delight of an alphabet book that is great fun to share. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Nibbles The Dinosaur Guide by Emma Yarlett.jpg

Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide by Emma Yarlett (978-1-61067-643-4)

This is the second Nibbles book where the little yellow monster invades a book by munching his way right into the pages. Here a serious informational book about dinosaurs is what he enters and causes all sorts of mischief. The book names beloved dinosaurs and explains facts about them before being interrupted by the chaos created by Nibbles as he chews through the pages. Nibbles flees from Triceratops charging him. He has an eating contest with a family of Diplodocus. He is surrounded by Velociraptors and then runs right into a Tyrannosaurus Rex before escaping the book.

Yarlett has a real feel for what children love in picture books. She includes poop and fart jokes along the way, and offers lift the flap and die cut pages. Along the way, various side characters offer puns and jokes that will have readers giggling. Still, there is real information on the various dinosaurs offered as well, creating a book that combines silliness and seriousness into just the right mix.

Yarlett’s illustrations work to combine the serious and silliness. The pages on the dinosaurs are done in serious muted colors, sepia tones. But when Nibbles is around, those colors burst into fuller colors with oranges, greens and yellows. The die cuts are cleverly used to move through the book, some of them appearing through multiple pages for even more effect.

Another delicious Nibbles book that combines interactive elements and dinosaurs for what is sure to be a popular pick. Appropriate for ages 4-7. (Reviewed from copy provided by Kane Miller.)

Review: Ally-Saurus & the First Day of School by Richard Torrey

Ally Saurus and the First Day of School by Richard Torrey

Ally-Saurus & the First Day of School by Richard Torrey (InfoSoup)

Ally loves dinosaurs, so when she heads off to her first day of school she is hoping to find lots of other kids who love dinosaurs too. But Ally seems to be the only one who is chomping her snack like a dinosaur or answering questions with dinosaur answers. As she starts to talk with the other kids though, she discovers the things that they love too. But some of the kids are not very friendly, like the bossy threesome who loves princesses the best and who don’t let Ally sit at their table during lunch. So Ally sits by herself. She is joined quickly though by other children who want to sit with her and they love dinosaurs and dragons and lunchboxes and lions. Soon she has a group of kids to play with at recess, who are willing to run wild and roar along with her. Even the princesses who snubbed her end up playing along too.

Torrey captures the joy of imaginative play as a child where that subject is all the child thinks about and their major focus of their day. Ally faces her first day of school with positive feelings which is good to see. Torrey doesn’t overplay the negative encounter with other children in the class either, allowing it to unfold naturally and be remedied in the same way. Ally’s use of roaring and munching to make friends adds a silly element that is very welcome in the book, and it also shows the other children who seek her out what kind of girl she is.

Torrey’s art adds to the imaginative play piece of the story. With pastel and black and white illustrations, the imaginative piece looks as if a child drew it on with crayon. As Ally learns more about her classmates they too get their own crayon elements, so the boy interested in astronauts gets a helmet and the princesses get crowns. It’s a clever way to indicate that these are imaginary but still there

A positive and humorous look at the first day of school, this is perfect for sending your own imaginative little one off or for sharing during that first week of school. Appropriate for ages 4-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Sterling Children’s Books and Raab Associates.

Review: Mad Scientist Academy: The Dinosaur Disaster by Matthew McElligott

Mad Scientist Academy The Dinosaur Disaster by Matthew McElligott

Mad Scientist Academy: The Dinosaur Disaster by Matthew McElligott (InfoSoup)

Released July 7, 2015.

In this graphic novel for elementary-aged children, facts about dinosaurs mingle with a great adventure. A new class of young monsters are enrolled at the Mad Scientist Academy. On their first day of school, they meet Dr. Cosmic, a teacher at the academy who has managed to lose the school pet, Oscar, a dinosaur. The children are sent to find Oscar and set off on an adventure through the various exhibits that Dr. Cosmic has been working on. The focus of the exhibits is dinosaurs and there are mechanical dinosaurs throughout who are set to be tame. Unfortunately, their setting is accidentally set to live mode and all of the dinosaurs start acting as if they are real. It is up to the students to figure out how to escape the rampaging T-Rex and find Oscar too.

McElligott has a great feel for pacing and humor in this graphic novel. There are small touches of humor throughout the book, from one students stinky lunch to the out-of-control exhibits that have too much lava and are a bit too effective in showing meteors. The book is thoughtfully designed too with each monster character having characteristics that come into play in the story line. The lizard boy uses his long tongue to reach something, the insect girl uses her wings to remove smoke from the room, and much  more. The insertion of the dinosaur information is done in a light way and includes plenty of illustrations to keep the information accessible and fun.

The art is very effective throughout the book. The characters are diverse enough to be recognizable even in images where they are smaller. Double-page spreads of the full exhibit show the largeness of both the exhibit and the dinosaurs too. Dramatic moments are nicely captured and the timing of funny events is done very effectively.

Get this into the hands of children growing out of Magic School Bus books. The mix of graphic novel, information and fantasy elements will find lots of young fans. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Crown Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss.

Review: Oliver and His Egg by Paul Schmid

oliver and his egg

Oliver and His Egg by Paul Schmid

Oliver from Oliver and His Alligator returns in a second book.  While on the playground, Oliver finds an egg, really a large smooth rock, that he imagines will hatch into a big orange-polka-dotted dinosaur.  He would have a new friend and they would go on adventures together.   As Oliver dreams of their adventures, the other children find that he is sitting on the “egg” waiting for it to hatch.  So he tells them of his enormous dinosaur-sized dream and they all have to find eggs of their own.

Schmid’s picture book is simple and cheery.  Oliver is a creative little boy, inventing his own worlds.  The book also shows that all children can be creative and use their imaginations.  Just as in the first book, the text is minimal, offering less than a sentence on each page.  It suits a book that is about imagination to have so much left unsaid.

The illustrations are simple too.  Clearly drawn characters are done in simple lines with small touches of color.  They are combined with the rock “eggs” that are photographed stones, giving them a weight that the light illustrations don’t have.  It’s a dynamic combination on the page.

A cheerful follow-up picture book, this second outing for Oliver is great fun for toddlers.   Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Review: Fossil by Bill Thomson


Fossil by Bill Thomson

Thomson, author of Chalk, returns with a book that once again mixes fantasy with photorealistic art.  In this picture book, a boy is walking along the water with his dog.  He finds an interesting rock but then trips and the rock goes flying and breaks open revealing a fossil inside.  As he picks it up and discovers the fossilized fern inside the rock, ferns start to grow around him.  His dog digs up another rock and when the boy breaks that one open, a huge dragonfly comes to life.  The dragonfly lands on another rock and readers will see the claws on the fossil before the shadow appears.  With his dog in danger, the boy has to think fast about how to save him. 

Done in a wordless format, Thomson’s art is the real draw here.  His photorealism makes for images that are worth lingering over.  He also uses unique perspectives throughout the book, such as the image on the cover.  The books has the universal appeal of a sandy shore littered with large stones and drenching sunlight.  That same sunlight somehow becomes threatening once the dinosaur appears, almost spotlighting the danger and creating deep menacing shadows.

Vivid and beautiful, this book offers a dynamic take on fossils and prehistoric life.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: How Big Were Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge

how big were dinosaurs

How Big Were Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge

Whenever you think of dinosaurs, they are like the one on the cover of the book.  Huge, green and either placid plant eaters or ferocious meat eaters.  This nonfiction picture book takes a look at dinosaurs that are quite different.  There is the microraptor who is the size of a chicken.  The long-named Leaellynasaura stood as tall as an emperor penguin and lived in that same climate.  Of course there were bigger dinosaurs too.  The akylosaurus stood as tall as an SUV.  There were dinosaurs with huge claws that ate plants, ones with armor and still others with odd parts of the body that no one understands yet. 

Judge carefully chooses her dinosaurs in this book.  Understanding that the littlest dinosaurs lack the vibrant punch of the huge ones, the book quickly changes to the more imposing creatures.  She shares just enough about each dinosaur to make the book readable.  In fact, this is one nonfiction picture book about dinosaurs that could be shared at a storytime or aloud in a unit.  Judge packs lots of fascinating facts into the book.  It ends with the science behind figuring out what dinosaurs used to look like and a fold-out page with all of the dinosaurs in the book shown next to each other with lots of numbers and facts.

Judge’s playful illustrations are great fun.  Throughout the book, she uses humans to show the scale of the dinosaurs as well as other animals.  The humans don’t just stand next to the dinosaurs, they interact and react to them.  I particularly enjoyed the image of the woman batting at a dinosaur with a broom.  It’s those little touches of humor that suit this book so well.

Readable, fun and filled with science, this book on dinosaurs will be a welcome addition to those crowded shelves.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

Review: Rawr! by Todd H. Doodler


Rawr! by Todd H. Doodler

Meet Rex, a very polite and well-behaved dinosaur, who is here to tell you that being a dinosaur in modern human society is hard.  He’s bigger than everyone else in his class, even his teachers.  He doesn’t fit in a desk.  He isn’t good at hide-and-seek.  And he is so big that everyone thinks he is scary.  But really, Rex isn’t scary at all.  He is helpful, polite and even has a great (big) smile.  What everyone should remember is that when Rex gives a really big “Rawr!” he is trying to say hello.  So don’t be scared of dinosaurs, they just might be as friendly as Rex.

Doodler has created as story that simple and straight forward, making it perfect for very small children.  He has inserted plenty of humor into the story, which will be a welcome diversion for both parents and children.  Rex is a character that pops off of the page with his energy and his size.  Doodler’s art has great appeal and is filled with bright colors encased in thick black lines. 

Expect this to be a new favorite at bedtime!  Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic.