Little Nick admires his father. He isn't afraid of the dark, or bugs, or manhole covers. Little Nick on the other hand, is, but luckily for him, he has some help, he has his dinosaur. Whenever the boy faces a challenge, he carries his plastic T-Rex with him, for in his mind, it is a real one that comes to his aid. Every time he accomplishes something, we can see the faint outline of a dinosaur carefully placed into the frame, to make it look like it was this creature who was responsible. Unlike Nick and the T-Rex, Nick's dad, a larger than life figure to him, is always partially hidden in some way or another. He is meant to represent every father, rather than just this boy's, and as a symbol of an understanding, and loving dad, this is just fine. Some of Choldenko's descriptions invoke imagery in the mind, and it would have been nice to see more used, because they were quite good, and are perfect for artist's like Dan Santat, who have such an expressive style. Among the projects that Santat has worked on, Dad and the Dinosaur is, relatively-speaking, more serious than the others. It is full of good feelings, but gone is that brilliantly visual humour that you usually find; it's nice to see him work on something a little different. Dad and the Dinosaur is a great picture book for fathers and sons to share.
Choldendko's treatment of a boys love for love, respect and desire to live up to his father's greatness coupled with his own self doubts, leads to a wonderful expression of the relationship between father and son. This is not a fantasy or pretend story this is a real story of a boy and his dad lovingly told and perfectly illustrated. This is what you get when you team a Newbery honoree and a Caledcott award winner. Great for Father's Day.
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