After our diversion into more adult-oriented fare with “Cruisin the Fossil Coastline”, I thought I’d get back on brand by moving in the complete opposite direction. Today we look at “ROAR: A Dinosaur Tour”, by Michael Paul.
This easy-reader book contains light, simple text that makes it perfect for reading out loud, or for kids just starting to read on their own. The book describes the many different attributes of various dinosaurs. Each attribute (whether big or small, fast or slow, etc.) pairs with a matching dinosaur, with its name printed off to the side. The dinosaurs aren’t assembled in any manner resembling taxonomic categories, but that’s hardly necessary in a book at this level.
Paul renders his illustrations in a pleasant, minimalist style that I’d like to see more of in children’s books. I’m reminded somewhat of some of David Orr’s artwork, for example “Mammoth Is Mopey”, or perhaps more closely, his “Paleontology Fancier” buttons. In any case Orr first got me truly into the idea of minimalist renderings of prehistoric life, so maybe I just associate the concept with him. I consider the comparison to be high praise either way!
With that in mind, it is with a heavy heart that I turn to the few disappointing aspects of the illustrations. There’s a couple of illustrations such as the overly-spiky, strangely-beaked Ankylosaurus I could nitpick, but I’m inclined to give those a pass. For the most part, the illustrations clearly represent the intended animals, and make only minor concessions to life appearance considering the amount of stylization at play. However, that unfortunately cannot excuse a naked Velociraptor in a book published in 2018. For a book that otherwise strikes a perfect balance in the rest of its illustrations, it felt almost jarring to see this illustration here.
On a more positive note, I really liked how the author used the book’s endpapers (the inside of the book’s covers). In both the front and the back of the book, we see headshots of all the featured dinosaurs. The only difference is that in the front, Paul provides the dinosaurs’ names, while in the back, he provides the translations! I found this a fun and thoughtful way to pull that off.
I really like this book overall. The writing and the art style both perfectly suit its intended audience, and both my boys (4 & 1 yrs old) often ask me to read it to them. I really want to heap praise upon it, but I can’t quite forgive that naked raptor.
I think I’ll leave it at this: while I regretfully can’t quite give it the full “Stomp of Approval”, I still enjoy it, and recommend it anyway. You can find “ROAR: A Dinosaur Tour” here on Amazon. I think you and your little ones will enjoy it! (Incidentally, if sharks are more your speed, it looks like Michael Paul has another book coming out soon called “CHOMP: A Shark Romp”. Should be fun!)