Monday, July 21, 2008
The Littlest Dinosaur by Michael Foreman - review
The Littlest Dinosaur by Michael Foreman
Michael Foreman has had a long and impressive career. He creates beautiful watercolors and sometimes writes wonderful books.
A parent picked up The Littlest Dinosaur tonight at work, saying, "Oh, my son loves dinosaurs". I looked at the cover illustration, a pensive, wee ceratopsid sitting atop a blue hill, gazing into the blue evening sky, and I thought to myself, "I bet that book isn't about dinosaurs. I bet that book Teaches Us Something About Ourselves." Something about all that blue. And now, oh, you stop it. I do NOT dislike ALL books with a message right off the bat. If a book charms me, I don't care what it's trying to tell me.
So we have a loving mama dinosaur who hatches a clutch of eggs. All but one egg, which mama guards with obsessive care. Eventually, papa dinosaur, tired of taking care of all the other kids while she fusses over the egg, puts his face down next to it and yells, "Do something!" Whereupon the egg cracks. My colleague Dances With Chickens was reading the book with me. I turned to her and said, "Look, yelling at your kids really does work!" We turned the page and from the egg emerged the tiniest dinosaur ever seen. Dances With Chickens observed, "Yeah, but you get less out of them."
So tiny dinosaur lives a lonely, perilous life among his giant family... until! One day everyone else gets stuck in the mud and he has to go for help, enlisting a humongous longneck, who plucks the ceratopsid family from the muck. "I thought I was too big and clumsy to do anything useful," he said, "but now I know that's not true."
Me? I suppose I'm too tired and cynical to do anything useful. When I saw those dinos in the mud, I had been hoping for some La Brea sabertooth action. MmmROWR!