Thursday, November 13, 2008

Taking Down Hack the Ripper: Dinosaur Trouble by Dick King-Smith

Dick King-Smith, who has given us hunting pigs and ancient lake monsters (Babe: The Gallant Pig (Babe) The Water Horse) has created a couple of prehistoric pals in his new beginning chapter book, Dinosaur Trouble.

Nosy is a just-hatched, nidifugous (early flying) pterodactyl, who, urged by his stunt-flying mom Aviatrix, hops out of the egg and takes to wing to check out the Jurassic landscape where he was born. Nosy is especially curious about the other dinosaurs in his environment, especially a family of apatosauruses he spots on the great plain on the other side of the lake.

Although his mother, Aviatrix, and his father, Clawed, superciliously discourage association with what they consider a substandard species, little Nosy is curious about the baby apatosaurus he sees feeding on the ground vegetation and hiding in the lake with only her nostrils above the surface. So while his parents hang out upside down to catch some extra snooze time, Nosy sets out to visit his new neighbors. Quickly he and the young apatosaurus, whom he names Banty, become friends. Nosy rides on Banty's back during their long conversations and takes to the air to watch for their common enemy, the formidable T. Rex named Hack the Ripper while Banty grazes.

At the youngsters' urging, the two families become friendly despite their earlier prejudices. It's an alliance that serves them well when Hack the Ripper pays a visit to their side of the plain and almost turns Banty into an appetizer for the fearsome predator. The two species combine their special endowments--speed and flight for the pterodactyls and great strength for the apatosauruses--to put an end to the T. Rex's terrible reign on the plain.

Illustrator Nick Bruel (Bad Kitty, Poor Puppy) adds his quirky, comic art style to King-Smith's witty text to make this transitional novel an easy page turner for the early independent reader. Although mom Aviatrix has a most prolix vocabulary, she defines all of her tongue-twisting terms (nidifugous, primogeniture, somniloquist) in conversations with Nosy and with her somewhat dim-bulb mate, Clawed, and the two youngsters prove to be apt pupils for her vocabulary lessons. Altogether, this is a fun read for the elementary crowd carried off in Dick King-Smith's inimitable style.



  • I bought this for my son a few months ago. He has read it more than three times already and is quite enamored of the big words. At age 7, the dinosaur theme is, of course, a big hit.

    By Blogger Tricia, at 6:44 AM  

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