That’s No Dino! Or Is it? – by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Marie-Eve Tremblay

That’s No Dino! Or Is it? – by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Marie-Eve Tremblay, Kids Can Press, 9781525300233, 2021

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

What did you like about the book? Becker begins the book with an author’s note that suggests a tremendous amount of research was conducted to facilitate the writing of this book. In addition, she cautions readers that there is an inordinate amount of misinformation about prehistoric life on the internet and that readers should be wary of taking the information at face value.  The premise of the text is to explore a variety of prehistoric creatures in a fun and playful way to determine whether or not they meet the current criteria for the definition of a dinosaur. Each two-page spread features a vibrantly colored, digitally rendered creature. A short, but information-packed, description provides detailed attributes and features. And the question is asked: Was it a dino? As the text moves from one creature to the next, the criterion that must be met increases, and surprisingly each animal (whom many children would typically guess would be a form of a dinosaur) “fails” the test based on one attribute that rules it out. Finally, the velociraptor “saves” the day as it meets all of the requirements of the definition of a dinosaur. The conclusion lists all of the criteria considered under the current day scientific requirements and it is followed by a thorough glossary, index, and selected sources.

Anything you didn’t like about it? This is a well-written book both in content and presentation. It captured the attention of my second graders. One caution: The criterion chart can be confusing because of the way the rule in /rule out language is written. For example: The Platyhystrix is not a dinosaur because it IS an amphibian. The text box on page 7 has an X next to “was not an amphibian”. Students found that confusing. The text box is suggesting that to be considered as a dinosaur a creature was not an amphibian, whereas they interpreted the “X” to mean that the Platyhystrix wasn’t an amphibian in contradiction to what was previously stated in the text. Perhaps rewording the criteria would make it easier for youngsters to navigate.

To whom would you recommend this book? Youngsters who are fascinated by dinosaurs will enjoy, and be surprised by, this book.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? J 560 BEC

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Not unless you are specifically looking to expand on your dinosaur collection.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Linda Broderick, Lincoln Street Elementary School, Northboro, MA

Date of review: 5/30/2021

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