I recently took my boys out to a local toy store called The Toy Maven, mostly just for a fun outing (about a week after Christmas, I figured it wouldn’t be too crowded), but also to potentially support a local business. While browsing around, not only did I find a nice model for my collection (the Collecta Edaphosaurus, which looks gorgeous next to the Safari Ltd. Dimetrodon I got from the Whiteside Museum), but I found a fun new book to review as well!
Poke-A-Dot! Dinosaurs A to Z is published by popular children’s toy brand Melissa & Doug, and while I would love to credit the author and illustrator who actually put the work into it, they are unfortunately uncredited.
As the title implies, this is an ABC book with a fun gimmick: each alphabetical entry has a small button next to it which can be clicked when readers reach that point. It might not sound like much, but both my boys (ages 3 & 6) have remained remarkably entertained by it. I often find one of them sitting with the book simply popping the buttons for long stretches of time. It seems there’s just something very satisfying about that clicking noise that little kids can’t resist! I imagine it would make a good road trip book, provided it doesn’t drive the parents crazy!
The book features a nice, broad variety of prehistoric animals with a few unique entries (most of them true dinosaurs, some of them not). The abelisaur Rugops also featured in Mammoth is Mopey, one of the few dinosaurs this book shares with the other ABC books I’ve reviewed. I was interested to see Chungkingosaurus: as it also appears in the tycoon game Jurassic World Evolution and as two seperate models by PNSO, I think it must be on the road to wider recognition. I’ve long been fascinated with the Transylvanian baron Franz Nopcsa, who founded subdisciple of paleobiology, and first formulated the hypothesis of insular dwarfism, so I was pleased to see the inclusion of one his dinosaurs, Zalmoxes.
I like the art style, which, when the illustrator is at the top of their game, really lends itself to slightly caricatured yet accurate representation of the animal in question. Lambeosaurus, Ichthyosaurus, and Hagryphus in particular are top notch. The oviraptor Hagryphus has very well-rendered feathers, and appropriately arranged, too. It feels all the more frustrating then when the artist simply coasts and gives us something only vaguely representative of the genus specified.
Microraptor, Utahraptor, and Velociraptor in particular don’t look anything like they should. The illustrator succumbs to the Jurassic Park temptation and illustrates the latter two virtually featherless, while the Microraptor seems to lack hindwings and sports a neon blue coloration. The illustrator also plays fast and loose with the stegosaurs, with spikes often running the entire length of their backs, even interspersed between the plates. It’s an odd “monsterfication” of these already pretty outlandish armored herbivores. I can’t tell whether they simply didn’t refer to any source material, or if they somehow felt a misguided urge to unnecessarily “spruce them up”.
When all is said and done, I really like Poke-A-Dot! Dinosaurs A to Z, as do my own kids. I would even recommend other families purchase it for its engrossing nature, but considering the issues I have with some of the illustrations, I’m afraid I can’t quite justify giving it the Dino Dad Stomp of Approval.
As I mentioned above, I purchased Poke-A-Dot! Dinosaurs A to Z from a local shop called The Toy Maven, along with my Collecta Edaphosaurus. If you’re ever in the North Dallas area, stop on by and purchase it for yourself! If you would like to read my thoughts on some other dino ABC books, check out Mammoth is Mopey (the best), Alphasaurs and Other Prehistoric Types (also good with a very unique design), and Dinosaur ABC by Priddy Books (I was… not impressed). There’s also a few preschool counting books out there as well, though Countasaurus seems to one of the few worth the purchase.