Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Little Dinos Don't Bite, by Michael Dahl (illustrated by Adam Record)

Little Dinos Don't Bite 
(Hello Genius Series)
Author: Michael Dahl
Illustrator: Adam Record 
Publisher: Picture Window Books 
Publication Date: February 1, 2013

As both a parent and a daycare teacher, I understand the need for resources about biting. BELIEVE ME! I'm not sure this book will be any child's favourite though. It's okay, but not fantastic. The illustrations are cute and colourful and dinosaurs are always a popular choice for children's book characters, but the "no biting" message is clearly aimed at the way adults think more than the way children think. Little Dino is told repeatedly "Don't Bite" (his toys, his friends, his mom) but he's never really told WHY. Small children would respond better to a story in which there was a concrete REASON why the character shouldn't bite (it hurts people, it breaks things, etc.) rather than it just being a rule. It's already a rule! Story books can help reinforce rules and ideas by illustrating "case studies." (You shouldn't bite. Don't believe me? Examine if you will the case of Little Dino.

It may sound like I'm overthinking this, but I believe strongly that children's books should NEVER sacrifice story for message, even board books for toddlers. It has to be a good book first and foremost if children are expected to respond to it. So books with "messages" are much better conveyed by good storytelling than by illustrated rule telling.

As an example of what I mean, I urge you to check out Doodle Bites, by Polly Dunbar (part of the Tilly and Friends series). It's fantastic and much better at getting the message across than this book.

Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.

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