Dinosaur vs. Santa, by Bob Shea (2012)
Don’t read this book aloud if you happen to have a throat tickle…all the roaring will put you into a terrible coughing fit! BoyChild was super excited to see a dinosaur book in the stack of Christmas books I brought home from my most recent solo venture to the library, so this was, of course, his next selection!
Dinosaur is getting ready for Santa, and he approaches each activity with his usual roaring zeal! Writing a letter to Santa, decorating the tree, making presents for his parents, and…being extra good? (That one’s hard for Dinosaur, but he WINS AGAIN!) Falling asleep on Christmas Eve is hard for Dinosaur, too, and he does all the usual stalling techniques. He then does something “no dinosaur should ever do”…when he hears a jingling noise, he sneaks downstairs and sees Santa’s shadow on the wall! He rushes upstairs again and frets that Santa has seen him and will return his presents…and he drifts off to sleep. When he wakes up, he wins again because the train set he wished for is under the tree, and Christmas morning is a success.
I have read several Dinosaur vs. books, and it took me all this time to actually get that the main character isn’t really a dinosaur. I don’t think. The last illustration in this book is what clued me in. While Dinosaur has pranced through the pages in a variety of so-called ugly Christmas sweaters (I wore those before they were cool! 😉 ), he has always looked like the same little, red dinosaur. His bathrobe-clad parents, however, as viewed from about the waist down, appear to be wearing slippers (which BoyChild thought were gingerbread men feet) and pajamas, and the hand you can see holding the gift from Dinosaur to one of his parents appears to be a human hand (although an odd pale green color) with human fingernails. So, not unlike many little children BoyChild’s age, this “Dinosaur” is actually just playing dinosaur all the time as opposed to being an anthropomorphic dinosaur like I had supposed him to be! I would once again say that the illustrations have collage elements, but here are Mr. Shea’s own words regarding his medium on his most recent book: “Lots of different things. Right now I am cutting shapes out of black paper. Usually I draw with black ink on watercolor paper. Sometimes I scan in textures and work with those. I put it all together in the computer stripping it of any legitimacy.” (I really think I want to start following his website…or maybe visit the online cards and prints shop he and his wife created!) The simple design still conveys a variety of emotions and actions, and the stylized and decorative fonts are as much a part of the illustrations as the little guy is.
The zest for life that the titular Dinosaur shows is so much fun to portray in a read-aloud! You just can’t read it to a little dino lover without a lot of growling, vocal stomping, and ROOOOOOOARS! BoyChild likes to choose these books when I’m just getting over being sick; he apparently feels that my coughing adds something to the story. 😉 This is most definitely a good book for preschool and early elementary aged dinosaur lovers, particularly fans of the other books in this series, like Dinosaur vs. the Potty and Dinosaur vs. the Library!