Sunday 4 November 2012

Dinosaur Rocks

Dinosaur Rocks by Lachlan Creagh (Lothian/Hachette)
PB RRP $14.99
Reviewed by Hilary Smillie
Picture books on dinosaurs are always a magnet for young children and this one, written and illustrated by Creagh, is no exception. Tim is spending the holidays with his grandparents on their property which includes a large formation of rocks - Dinosaur Rocks. With no technology to amuse him, Tim takes up his grandparents' invitation to explore the outcrop with Belle, the dog.
He is soon distracted when he finds a strange stripey chicken and, in trying to return it to its mother, Tim jumps down onto a bed of golden feathers. The feathers leap up and Tim is carried away on the back of Goldie, the dinosaur. Goldie gallops into a cave and when they emerge into a forest, Tim hears many weird rumblings and noises. The forest gives way to a valley inhabited by many different dinosaurs, big and small, land and air inhabitants. They all seem to have the one purpose - to get to the sea and find fish to eat. Goldie joins the rush and Tim spies in the ocean other prehistoric creatures ready to feast. Goldie gets her share of fish and they head back, having many an adventure on the way.
Creagh's two-page spread illustrations are full of life and fascinating detail. The spreads encourage both child and reader to hold the pages together as there is so much to see. I was only disappointed in two illustrations - one where the dog is balanced on a chair across the room from Tim and his grandfather when it seems more natural to me to place the dog in close proximity to its owner; the other shows the grandparents waving to Tim as he sets out to explore, but the grandparents appear to be focussing past him. The action words in the text are highlighted in colours and placed in waves to emphasise movement which knits the book into an exciting whole.
The dinosaurs' distinctive Australian names, e.g., a titanosaurus called Wintonotitan Wottsi and a kronosaurus: Kronosaurus Queenslandicus add a sense of wonder that dinosaurs actually walked around in Australia.
A bonus for kids is a separate spread of the dinosaurs-with-comments which can be hung as a poster. I liked this particular spread as it encourages the reader to believe that the writer actually witnessed these prehistoric creatures.
Dinosaur Rocks, published in both paperback and hardback, is a picture book that will provide endless pleasure for young dinosaur-lovers.  

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