Monday, June 07, 2010

Nonfiction Monday - review: Dinosaurs?!



Dinosaurs?! written and illustrated by Lila Prap. North-South, 2010 (978-0-7358-2284-9) $16.95

I was pretty turned off by nonfiction as a kid, so this book caught my eye as something that might appeal to the sort of kid I was. Incidentally, I didn't find any other blog reviews of this book, but I did find a mention of Lila Prap's Why at A Year of Reading, accompanying this comment: "I read aloud nonfiction that doesn't look or act like nonfiction to challenge my students' thinking about genre."

Dinosaurs?! may not be as challenging as Why?, but it's not your standard nonfiction. In addition to illustrations of dinosaurs that are a bit on the goofy side, the informative text is surrounded by a group of wisecracking chickens, who mock their enormous ancestors. (Hmm, a bit reminiscent of Robie Harris' facts of life books, come to think of it.) One little just-hatching chick always has a question or comment at the end of the page, and the next page answers it: "What strange ancestors. Did any others have unusual bumps on their head?" (Turn the page.) "Some of them had bony domes on their heads! Oviraptor, or Egg Seizer had an unusually shaped crest on its and two prongs on the upper palate of its beak, which it may have used to crush the shells of mollusks."

I didn't find this as funny as I'd hoped; the best part comes at the very end, when the chickens play a game of telephone: "Our ancestors were dinosaurs! Pass it on!" "Our aunt's stores were at the shore! Splash it on!" "The apple core went through the door! Mash it long!" The smart chick comments, "And so on... This is roughly how chickens evolved from dinosaurs." Other than that, the chicken remarks aren't that interesting, and the same few pictures of them are used over and over. But the dinosaurs themselves, thickly outlined against speckled backgrounds, occasionally sporting grins, are quite appealing.

I can see this book potentially working both ways, as a way to entice a fiction lover into enjoying a few facts, or a way to entice a nonfiction lover into enjoying a little whimsy. (4-8)


© 2010 Wendy E. Betts

FTC disclosure: Review copy provided by the publisher. This blog is completely independent, but I receive a small percentage if you order books from Powell's via this site.

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