Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings

Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings

Illustrator:  Douglas Florian 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 2009   ISBN: 978-1416979784

Many children, at some point, develop a passion for dinosaurs. They want pictures of dinosaurs on their lunch boxes, on their pajamas, and on their backpacks. They want dinosaur books and plastic dinosaur figurines.  They sleep with stuffed dinosaurs, and eat off dinosaur dishes. It is easy to understand why dinosaurs are so addictive. They are interesting, and bizarre looking. Many of them were enormous, and they are no longer here, which makes them seem mysterious.

   In this splendid picture book Douglas Florian, who has created many wonderful poetry collections for young readers, celebrates dinosaurs of all kinds. He begins by talking about the “age of Dinosaurs,” where he tells us about how they “First lived outdoors / During the time Triassic.” Most of them then died out, but a few survived to enjoy the Jurassic, and to flourish in the Cretaceous. Now, alas, the poor creatures can only be found indoors where they live in “museum halls.”

   The poet then goes on to introduce us to a wide variety of dinosaur species. Some, like Iguanodon and Triceratops, will be familiar to many young readers, while others, like Minmi and Troodon, will become new friends.

   In almost every poem Douglas Florian combines humor with information to give young readers a delightful mix that beautifully complements his multimedia art. Sometimes the poems are in the third person, and sometimes they are in the first person and we feel as if the dinosaur in question is talking to us. For example, in the Plesiosaurus poem the aquatic creatures tell is that that they aren’t vicious and are “very polite,” they always “say PLEASE before we might bite.”

   There are also many places where the poet uses language in clever ways, as he does in the poem about the Triceratops, which we are told to “Beware-and-please-take-care-a-tops.”

   This collection would make a wonderful gift for a child who is a dinosaur fan.