The Little Golden Book series is a staple of family bookshelves everywhere, and the Dino Dad’s shelves are no exception. The brand has featured plenty of classic dinosaur stories over the course of its existence, but when I found this adaptation of Jurassic Park, I knew I had to review it! Given the imminent release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and the onset of #JurassicJune, it feels particularly appropriate at this time!
The plot of this book of course covers the story of the first Jurassic Park movie, adapted by Arie Kaplan for the 3-6 year old crowd, streamlining and sanitizing the plot. Kaplan keeps the writing simple and easy to follow, both for those listening to their parents read, and young readers going at it on their own. The sanitization of the story removes most of the violence from the book. For example, movie deaths don’t simply occur “off screen”: the characters that do die in the film aren’t even referenced at all, apart from a cameo appearance by an unnamed Muldoon (of “Clever girl” fame) during the T. rex jeep chase scene. Sadly, all scenes of Grant & the kids’ journey back to the visitor’s center also found themselves on the cutting room floor. I would have enjoyed seeing the treetop Brachiosaurus scene somewhere other than merely on the cover, so as to provide a break from all the dino peril, but I suppose it keeps the book’s length down.
John Holtsclaw illustrates the book in a cute, child-friendly style. I never expected scientifically accurate dinosaurs, though surprisingly they don’t look very movie-accurate either (although the brachiosaurs fare best on both counts). My favorite (and what I consider the most effective) illustrations in the book tend to most closely replicate scenes from the movie. I’ve already mentioned the cover image, but I also liked the double paged “Welcome to Jurassic Park” scene, again featuring the ever-reliable brachiosaurs. The moment in the kitchen where the raptors investigate some fallen silverware very strongly evokes the feel of the corresponding movie scene.
As far as the more reinterpreted illustrations go, I did like the image of the T. rex escape, in spite of (or perhaps due to?) the fact that Ian Malcolm looks like he’s playing fetch with the Tyrannosaurus. Somehow I always seem to find Malcolm the most charismatic person of any version of the JP franchise he appears in.
So how do I like the book overall? Personally, I feel the book could have benefitted from an even looser adaptation of the original story. It feels a little stilted or jumpy at times, especially if the reader knows which scenes got the axe. I personally would have preferred a more thorough rewrite to make this book stand better on its own.
However, this Dino Dad certainly does not represent the target audience of the book. Rather, the writer has aimed this story at people like 6 year old me. I certainly remember a keen interest in Jurassic Park as a youngster (I definitely collected as many action figures as I could afford), though I did not actually see the movie till I reached my early teens. Youngsters curious about but too young for the actual movie stand to gain the most from this book, satisfying their curiosity about the basic plot, while keeping the scarier elements at arm’s length. This gives them the perfect opportunity to engage in the fandom, even if they can’t join their older siblings in watching the movie.
I certainly recommend the book to any such family with prospective young Jurassic Park fans, though it may not hold as much appeal to anyone outside its relatively small target demographic. You can find it here on Amazon, or at your local bookseller! Speaking of booksellers…
Before I wrap things up, I always enjoy patronizing smaller businesses as I hunt for more material to review, and I happened to find this particular book (as well as Melissa & Doug Prehistoric Reusable Sticker Pad and Build Your Own Dinosaurs Sticker Book) at the Ben Franklin Apothecary in Duncanville, Texas, bordering the city of Dallas. It’s a nice, old-fashioned pharmacy with a deli and ice cream parlor, a quilting shop, and a gift shop. My little ones (and I) are particularly fond of the sweets counter, with bulk candy in classic glass jars, and popcorn fresh from a carnival style cart. We’ve become well acquainted with some of the staff, and we always enjoy our visits there. I found my subject for today’s review amongst their extensive collection of Little Golden Books (which take up an entire rack in the gift shop). I was very pleased to find this excuse to further patronize their store. Be sure to check it out if you ever happen to find yourself in the area!