At BritMums Live, I was very happy to have the chance to sign up to be a Parragon Book buddy, and to receive my first two books to review.
The first book is Things You Never Knew About Dinosaurs by Giles Paley-Phillips
It is a bright and colourful picture book, appealing to toddlers and young children. When I showed the book to Tiddler, he said “I don’t like dinosaurs eating me” which made me wonder if he had had a sneaky look at the end of the story. I don’t think he can read, but as he is the fourth child it’s entirely possible that he could have learnt to do it without me noticing!
The story starts with a question. “Did you know that dinosaurs are still around today? They didn’t die off long ago, They never went away.” It then continues with what the dinosaurs are getting up to, for example playing tennis, riding bikes and bouncing on trampolines. The rhyming text is quite fun to read aloud, though in some places it doesn’t quite scan which I find a bit annoying.
The idea that dinosaurs are alive today is a good starting point to the story and some of the things they do are quite funny. I rather like “Dinosaurs love to play guitar, to stomp their feet and sing. They love to waltz and cha cha cha and do the Highland fling.” I’m not so keen on the part about things they “really HATE” (a word I am trying to teach my children not to use, or at least not to overuse) and in particular the line “Dinosaurs don’t like doing math…” (note this is the US edition. The UK text edition will be out in August.) It’s not very helpful to have a children’s book that reinforces the idea that Maths is something to dislike.
There are more things that dinosaurs like doing, such as going up in space, sailing the seven seas and trekking from pole to pole. However, the story ends with the thing that dinosaurs like most of all which is “eating kids like…YOU!” When I read the book to each of the children, they all had the same slightly worried look on their faces, and I don’t think any of them liked the ending very much.
They do like dinosaurs though, and they liked the illustrations. After listening to the story and looking at the pictures, Rabbit drew a dinosaur picture of her own.
She then set up a dinosaur scene.
The second book is Goodnight Little One by Margaret Wise Brown.
When I showed this book to Tiddler, after reading the dinosaur one to him, he said “I like donkeys because they don’t eat me!” It is a simple and gentle bedtime story, with a well-written rhyming text, perfect for reading aloud.
One by one, animals and children settle down and go to sleep, and it is easy to read in a soporific voice at bedtime. It starts with the donkey. “Little donkey on the hill, Standing there so very still. Making faces at the skies, Little donkey close your eyes.” Tiddler really likes this bit, and also the part about the cat. “Old black cat down in the barn, keeping five small kittens warm. Let the wind blow in the skies, Dear old black cat close your eyes.”
And it finishes with a child at bedtime. “Little child all tucked in bed, Looking such a sleepy head. Stars are quiet in the skies, Little child now close your eyes.”
All the children liked this story, and enjoyed the illustrations. Monkey drew a picture of a donkey like the one on the cover of the book.
Rabbit drew a picture of a house, with a child in bed inside it.
She also drew a donkey picture and a star, and then she and Monkey made a bed for some of their soft toys and tucked them in.
I asked the children what they thought of both the books.
Me: Do you like the dinosaur book?
Rabbit: A bit.
Me: And the goodnight book?
Rabbit: Yes. It’s a bit night-time-ish.
Me: Which do you like best?
Rabbit: The night time one.
Me: What do you think about the dinosaur book?
Me: And the goodnight one?
Monkey: Nice. I like the night time one best.
The conversations I had with Owl and Tiddler were similar. Owl said that the dinosaur book was “quite good” but the night time book was “good” and he liked it best. Tiddler also said the goodnight book was his favourite.
Thank you very much, Parragon, for giving us the books to review. We enjoyed them both, but “Goodnight Little One” was a clear winner for us!