The Girl and the Dinosaur by Hollie Hughes, illustrated by Sara Massini

 The Girl and the Dinosaur by Hollie Hughes, llustrated by Sara Massini, Bloomsbury, 9781547603220, 2020 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover

What did you like about the book?  In this rhyming, oversized picture book, a little girl unites her zest for paleontology with a can-do attitude and ends up in a magical world of dinosaurs and unicorns. During her afternoon at the beach, Marianne uncovers a dinosaur skeleton and makes a nighttime wish for her new pet (Bony) to come to life, which he does! Bony can swim and fly and takes Marianne straight to a magical, secret place full of other children and their dino-pets. They play for a while and then head home. Handsome illustrations combine watercolor, collage and Photoshop with a color palette of misty blues and purples, contrasted with the scaly green of the giant brontosaurus. Massini has succeeded in giving a lot of life to the illustrations, with the wind whipping through Marianne’s long red hair and the children joyfully dancing and playing in the secret party place. There’s lots of interesting details to discover on Marianne’s toy shelves, in the magical woods full of fairies and woodland creatures, and even in the houses and windows of the seaside village.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Although the artwork is very pretty, the story lacks tension. Nothing interesting happens. The conventionality of Marianne’s dream world of unicorns, fairies and giants makes the outing pretty ho-hum. I was a little disappointed that there was no dinosaur-ness in the book, although we do see several species in the Jurassic Park dream setting. Those obsessed with the creatures will be disappointed with the fact-free and singsong text.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Those in search of soothing and attractive bedtime stories for children aged 3-6 will find this book of interest.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries.

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: August 3, 2020

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