Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Dad and the dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko, illustrated by Dan Santat

Before discussing this book, I have to explain that I was watching Shaun Tan's animated short Lost Thing while I was reading it. This probably accounts for the quiet air of melancholy that I felt wound through the book.

Nicholas' dad, is brave. Nicholas is not. He's scared of the dark, of the things he imagines lurk behind corners. But he figures out he can be brave with some help - the help of his toy dinosaur. He carries it with him everywhere, even tucked into his sock during a soccer game. And then he loses it. The dark is too much for him and his dad realizes something is wrong. When Nicholas breaks down and tells his dad about his fears, his dad takes him back to the soccer field to find his dinosaur.

Santat's glowing pictures show multiple night-time and shaded scenes, with the giant shadow of the dinosaur standing strong behind Nicholas the whole time. When Nicholas loses his dinosaur, he is followed home in the car by a sinister red glow and creepy shadows encroaching from the edges of the dark.

This is not a typical storytime book; it has a quiet darkness and desperation about it, although it also beautifully portrays a loving relationship between a father and son. However, if your audience doesn't have these particular fears they might well have them after reading this book! I would recommend this for one-on-one reading with your own children or a group you know well.

Verdict: A lovely and valuable book which I recommend, but not for general storytime use.

ISBN: 9780399243530; Published 2017 by Penguin; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

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