Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Hark! The Pterodactyls Sing!" The Dinosaurs' Night Before Christmas by Ann Moecke

It was the night before Christmas when all through the hall
Not a creature was stirring, there was no sound at all.

The fossils were standing where they always stood.
Looking out o'er a now fast-asleep neighborhood.

But this isn't just any neighborhood. It is the neighborhood of the American Museum of Natural History, and right across the street, tucked tight in his bed, is their #1 fan. Everything in his room has a dino connection, from his stegosaurus lamp to the pterosaur mobile that soars overhead. And with his thoughts full of dinosaurs just as he falls asleep, the boy suddenly bolts wide awake at the clatter which comes from the nearby museum. The fossils seem to be stirring!

Barefooted and clad only in his dino-printed pajamas, the boy runs across the street and, finding the door unlocked as if just for him, joins a fantastic sight in the great Hall of Dinosaurs.

T. Rex was wearing a wreath on his head,
Eating handfuls of pterodactyl gingerbread.

With a pat on his back and a cup of eggnog,
The boy helped the kind dinos light their Yule log.

And together they joyfully danced 'round the fire,
Singing holiday songs in a melodious choir.

There is even a surprise visit from Santasaurus, pulled in his sleigh by eight tiny dino-deer with Yuletide gifts for all, before the first light of dawn sends the fossils back to their display cases and our boy back to his warm bed with a reassuring promise:

And Santasaurus said, as he sped out of sight,
"There's a dinosaur ball every Christmas Eve night!"

It was bound to happen. With all the parodies of Clement Moore's classic "Visit from St. Nicholas" about, dinosaurs were sure to get into the act, and in Ann Muecke's brand-new The Dinosaurs' Night Before Christmas (Chronicle Books, 2010) the fossilized merrymakers make the most of their annual revivification on Christmas Eve. Nathan Hale's zesty illustrations clad the restored dinosaur favorites in the latest paleontologically correct plumage and colorful scales now believed to be their due, dressing them appealingly in their Christmas best.

With the CD included with the book, kids can also do their own prehistoric caroling, with such favorites as "Oh, Duckbills, Oh, Duckbills!" (to the tune of "Jingle Bells,") "Hark the Pterodactyls Sing," "The Allosaurus Chorus," "Deck the Hall with Stegosaurus," and "We Wish You a Dino Holiday," not to mention the full story as read by weather guy Al Roker. And as a special Christmas present for all those prehistoric party-goers, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the American Museum of Natural History.

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