How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?
Written by Jane Yolen; illustrated by Mark Teague
The Blue Sky Press; $16.99
40 pp.; ISBN-13: 978-0439020817
Review by Amy Brozio-Andrews
Just in time for back-to-school, writer Jane Yolen and illustrator Mark Teague team up again and return with another delightful picture book for the back-to-school set, How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? The eighth title in the series that was kicked off by How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? continues with the same fun text and artwork that kids (and their parents) have come to expect in the series.
Chronicling all of the most common aspects of attending school, those big eager dinosaurs are back, demonstrating all the do's and don'ts kids need to know to be successful at school. From one dinosaur's dragging his tail and stomping his feet when late for the bus or another dinosaur's muscling in on a classmate's turn at show and tell, artist Mark Teague's dinosaurs are always enthusiastic if slightly self-centered and not on their best behavior. Meanwhile, Jane Yolen's rhyming prose asks question after question: "When he gets to the school does he roughhouse and punch? Does he make a quick grab for a classmate's packed lunch?" until it's revealed how those dinosaurs can and do behave: they share and take turns, show respect for others, demonstrate teamwork, and more.
The everyday experiences that are virtual universal -- bullies, show and tell, taking the bus or carpooling to school -- are echoed in How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? The storyline is easily accessible for young readers. Those who are returning to school can laugh because they know better than the dinosaurs how to behave, while children who will be starting school for the first time this year may find the tension broken by these silly situations. The author and illustrator mine these school experiences for maximum humorous effect, always in a good-natured way.
Jane Yolen's pitch-perfect rhyme flows very well; the book lends itself nicely to reading aloud and to groups without sounding fake or forced. Paired with Mark Teague's expressive children and dinosaurs that play and learn together, the combination is a light and yet effective look at how you really should behave at school, a gentle reminder that's likely to be remembered by children because they'll readily recollect the over-the-top dinosaur antics.
What's especially nice about the dinosaur series is that the name of the featured dinosaur is included in small font near the animal, unobtrusive yet there, which means you'll be prepared when your child asks, "What's that dinosaur called?" The book's endpapers are thoughtfully illustrated with miniatures of the dinosaurs along with their names as well, very handy for quick reference and even an impromptu game of hide and seek ("Can you find the dinosaur in the book that looks like this?")
In a long-running series like the How Do Dinosaurs? books, it's nice to see the storytelling and artwork remain consistent in tone, style, and humor, each new book like a visit from an old friend with new adventures.
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