Merry Christmas everyone! I thought I’d get into the spirit of the season by reviewing a holiday themed sequel to Jane Yolen & Mark Teague’s How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? You can find a couple out there, including a Chanukah themed entry in the series. While I should review that one at some point as well, today’s review covers How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?
There aren’t too many well-known holiday-themed dinosaur books out there, and this is one of the better ones I’ve read so far. Readability is the hallmark of any good children’s book, but you’d be surprised just how many absolutely fail in this regard. (I’ve taken several of my kid’s books out of rotation just because they’re so clunky to read out loud, even if they’re not very long.) Thankfully, Yolen’s writing always succeeds admirably. Good rhymes and a great sense of rhythm really help the words just roll off the tongue when I read this to my kids, and I imagine it makes it that much easier for young readers to pick up on their own as well.
Teague’s illustrations are charming as ever. I mentioned last time that his style reminds me a bit of William Joyce, and it’s almost as pleasing to look at as Yolen’s writing is to read. The dinosaurs are perhaps a bit overly chubby, and species that should be small are dramatically over-sized, but given that the dinosaurs are clearly meant to be children imagining themselves as such, we can forgive a bit of inaccuracy.
While this book has a few dinosaurs that are pretty good, and a few that are “roll my eyes and just go with it”, I’ve consistently noticed that each book in this series always seems to have at least one dinosaur that’s just bizarrely, head-scratchingly wrong. In this case, Therizinosaurus (misspelled “Therazinosaurus” on the inside cover) looks not like Freddy-Kreuger-by-way-of-Big-Bird, but rather a gibbon-armed theropod with a generic-looking head and rather small claws. The illustrator seems to have heard that it walked on four toes rather than the usual three, but instead of making the “dewclaw” touch the ground, added an extra toe to the foot. At least it has feathers? The Olorotitan is also given a toothy theropod muzzle for some reason (Teague seems to have this problem with hadrosaurs in general for some reason).
As is tradition in the “How Do Dinosaurs…” series, the book starts off with the dinosaurs (standing in for children) misbehaving whilst in the midst of whatever activity they should be doing, though they shape up by the end and learn to behave properly for a pleasant and happy holiday. I’m particularly fond of the caroling Einiosaurus, a curved-horned relative of Triceratops, and one of my favorite ceratopsians!
All in all, I heartily recommend How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? It’s a holiday staple in our home, and always a fun read, with a good reminder for the little ones to behave for Santa Claus! Merry Christmas, everyone, and enjoy your holidays!