Today we have a rather special review: the first book sent in to Dino Dad Reviews by one of our readers! I’m pleased to present to you, “Thomas “T” Rex and the Case of the Angry Ankylosaurus“, written by Nicole Mills & Henry Mills-Whittelsey, AKA the DinoMom and DinoBoy.
One fun behind-the-scenes note about the book: the DinoMom and DinoBoy are a mother and son team, and the story is based around the stories they make up during playtime, and in fact the illustrations in the book are modified photos of the DinoBoy’s own toy dinosaurs!
The star of our story is a Tyrannosaur private detective named Thomas. (Collectors of dinosaur toys will recognize the “actor” portraying Thomas as the classic Papo T. rex, which has graced many a stock photo collection worldwide.) An angry Ankylosaurus named Alistair visits our protagonist one night in a huff over some stolen ferns, and the tyrannosaur P.I. decides to take up the case, despite his disinterest in vegetarian fare. After a bit of sleuthing, they eventually discover things are not quite what they seemed at the beginning of the case!
The story is told in rhyming prose, which always makes for fun out-loud reading. The meter felt a little clunky in places, but mostly serviceable overall. The dino tracking footprint guide was a fun addition, and while I’m no fossil footprint expert, I do know that the sauropod footprints at least were very accurate, with the vaguely horseshoe-shaped front feet and the large, slightly angled rear feet. I was expecting it to play a larger part in the story, however, and while it’s fun to have the little ones match the various footprints to each other, it ended up feeling somewhat incidental overall.
I think the inspiration behind the book, together with the nature of the illustrations, are its strongest aspect. Knowing that the inspiration behind the story lies in imaginative playtimes with the very toys pictured on the pages has proved inspiring in our own playtime, encouraging a greater variety in play with our dinosaurs than mere “RAWR”-ing battle sessions.
If you’re looking for an imaginative story that encourages creative play in turn, then I recommend checking out “Thomas ‘T’ Rex and the Case of the Angry Ankylosaurus“! It’s a fun story, a great idea, and I’ll be looking out for the next installment in the “Dinosaur Detective” series I hear is on the way! If you’d like to follow the authors and see what they’re up to, check out @Dinosaur_Detective on Instagram, as well as DinoMom on Pinterest. Happy readings! See you next time.