Thursday, January 26, 2017

Procuring the Perfect Pet? How Do Dinosaurs Choose Their Pets? by Jane Yolen

How does a dinosaur choose a pet?

Does he head to the zoo
and take home a big cat?

And what does his mom
have to say about that?

Picking a pet takes some pondering. You can't just go stalking around in the jungle with a net, or raiding the tiger enclosure for a pet you'll never forget. There is a lot to consider in getting a critter--size, temperament, and need for containment. And how about diet?

Does she carry off tortoises, zebras, a mink?
Give them hay,
and a cola to drink?

How many wrong ways are there to pick a pet? Jane Yolen's and Mark Teague's latest book in their long-running How Do Dinosaurs series, How Do Dinosaurs Choose Their Pets? (Blue Sky/Scholastic Press, 2017), with tongue-well-in-cheek, takes a peek at some definitely esoteric dinosaurs--Coahuiaceratops, Rhinorex, Diamantinasaurus, and the way-cool Dianzhousaurus--doing it all wrong, from snatching a shark to keep in a pail to draggin' a wagonload of elephant home. I ask you, would a good dinosaur do that?

No, a dinosaur doesn't!

She knows what to do.
She would never bring anything
home from the zoo.

Dinosaurs know that getting a perfect pet doesn't begin with a raid or a snatch.

They know there are better ways to to make a good match.

Yolen and Teague recommend reliable pet stores, animal rescue centers, farms, or friends to find a pet that can be loved and taught good manners, all good advice for prospective pet owners. Jane Yolen puts her popular poetic skills to work in her catchy rhythms and rhyming lines, and with Mark Teague's big, bold, page-dominating paintings of dinosaurs exhibiting improbable and perhaps disastrous pet choices, pet-seeking kids will chuckle at the preposterous possibilities, while the comic but detailed illustrations of exotic ancient reptiles will delight the dino-loving reader.

As is their custom, the names of the featured dinosaur on each double-page spread is hand-labeled near each big beast--except for one, which will send close-reading, savvy dinosaur devotees to Yolen's and Teague's trademark end papers for thumbnail drawings and the names for each one, including the covert creature in question. This book is definitely a first purchase for children's collections on many levels, pleasing preschoolers who dote on dinosaurs, young independent readers who can handle Yolen's easy-going text with its visual and sound-alike clues, older primary readers who love the irony of prodigious dinos procuring odd pets, and scholarly fans who can add some newly discovered species to their vocabularies.

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