I will start out straight away by telling you that I am NOT inferring that dinosaurs are just for boys, but try as I might I can’t get either of my girls to get into dinosaurs!
Though they loved the zoo’s Dinosaur exhibit this year, and the Convention Center’s too, this well-liked illustrated dinosaur character just doesn’t do it for them. A book out for the holidays is Dinosaur vs. Santa by Bob Shea (Disney Hyperion), which follows on from earlier “Dinosaur vs.” books and has our pint-sized hero battling various Christmas activities.
Contrary to the title’s suggestion, Dino is not attempting to eat Santa, but is having a tough time with other holiday activities. With cries of “Roar! ROAR! Roar” Dino writes a letter to Santa, battles a tree into being decorated, wrestles with making presents for Mom and Dad, and hardest of all — struggles with being good and NOT eating Santa’s cookies.
Dino's biggest challenge, however, is falling asleep: What was that jingle noise? Who's downstairs? When Dino sneaks down the stairs, does Santa see him? Will he have any presents come morning?
I must admit, little Dino is a cute illustration, drawings mixed with collages of photographs, and nice shiny paper in places. Though there isn’t much of a storyline here, it's enough that the reader can make up their own details.
Since my daughter can’t yet read, she tells what she sees in the illustrations; how Dino’s sweater changes through the story; how the lights on the tree only go one-quarter of the way up the tree.
“Why is that?” I ask. “Because he can’t reach high up” she replies with a sigh, showing just how obvious it is and how pitiful I am for not knowing.
Throughout the book, Dino does manage to behave and thankfully runs back to bed rather than have Santa see him spying. One added bonus; at the back of the book is a removeable “Letter to Santa” your child can complete.
Since there's nothing that explicitly says young Dinosaur is a boy or a girl, I ask my preschooler if the dino is a boy or a girl…she decides it's a girl because of the holiday sweaters it wears. This is unexpected, as I thought he was very boy-like, although the way my preschooler behaves is similar.
Ultimately, my daughter was not enthralled, though she did enjoy reading this book. I think it will appeal more to children who love dinosaurs, which apparently tends toward the 3- to 5-year-old boys. They'll love joining in with a hearty ROAR! many times through.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to start work on a pink “Dinosaur Princess” character in order to fill the apparent stereotype void in little girls’ literature….