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We have a fair number of books by Julia Donaldson. I really like the way she writes in rhyming text. I know frequently listening to rhyme is a key component in developing literacy, but I have never liked the traditional rhymes. I have tried reading them to my sons, but they really haven't taken much interest either. Since I don't read nursery rhymes often, I've tried to make up for this by making sure they hear plenty of stories with rhyme, and there is something very nice about reading a rhyming story out loud if the author can manage to get the rhythm and rhyme just right - and still tell a good story. I've no interest in a book which rhymes at the expense of the story - and there are far too many of them out there. Julia Donaldson has always managed to get it just right though - and I believe that to be a rare talent.
So - since I like Julia Donaldson - and I am always looking for really good dinosaur books for two dinosaur mad little boys, it may seem surprising that I have only owned this book for a few months. I had read a review someplace ( I believe it was book club site - it was some time before I found Dooyoo) that it was a book about bullying, and that the main character was a gentle Tyrannosaurus Rex who liked to sing , the way this book was described never really appealed to me, so I never bothered to look any closer at this book. It is a shame as well because now that I own the book - I know the original reviewer never read it. I came across this again recently when searching for dinosaur books. This time the illustration caught my eye. There are two big ugly Tyrannosaurus Rex, but the small dinosaur below is most definitely not a T Rex. it isn't a terribly accurate drawing - but it does look more like a Hadrosaur than anything else. So I read the product description, came here and read a few Dooyoo reviews and on Amazon which clearly state that the main character is a duckbill dinosaur.
I still wasn't 100% sure my son would like this. He has a beloved toy Mega Parasaurolophus who - according to my son, finds the term duckbilled dinosaur highly insulting. He does not look like a duck he insists - the stupid paleontologists who called him that look like ducks. The proper family name is Hadrosaur and he insist that not just himself, but also other members of his species be referred to by their correct name. I also wasn't terribly impressed by the cover art I've always thought Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler make a great pair with his brightly coloured art work perfectly matching her stories, and I do find the illustrations in this are just not of the same quality as those in The Gruffalo, Zog , or The Monkey Puzzle. Still it was about a Hadrosaur and I can assure there are very few story books about this type of Dinosaur ( if anyone knows of others please let me know). My son really does love all Hadrosaurs but most especially Parasaurolophus. The dinosaur in this book is too crudely drawn to be certain which species it is meant to be, but Parasaurolophus would be my best guess. This book was only £2.81 used from Amazon ( New would be £7.58) so I decided to take a chance. I am very glad I did.
This is a brilliant story about a duckbill egg that, through a series of unfortunate events ends up in T Rex nest. The T- Rex mother isn't very smart, and can not count, so she doesn't notice that she now has 3 eggs instead of two. Babies 1 and 2 are perfect little T-Rex hatchlings, but the little duckbill is a disappointment from the moment he hatches. His mother is horrified by his appearance, but Dad is a bit more tolerant. Things go from bad to worse when he declares that he will not eat meat - preferring a vegetarian diet. He can't even shout out the family's war cry "Up with Hunting.....Up with War..... "Up with bellyfuls of Duckbill Dinosaur" ( it sounds better in the book a it has some more text in between). Instead he hoots "Down with hunting", "Down with war" and "Down with bellyfuls of duckbill dinosaur". The poor duckbill is always an outcast in his own family, dubbed Tyrannosaurus Drip, but when they leave him alone to go hunting - he runs away and finds happiness with his own kind. But what will happen the T-Rex family finds Drip and his new found friends. Will they all end up as bellyfuls of Duckbill Dinosaur? I won't quite give away the ending - but I will give a bit more detail under the spoiler alert at the bottom of the review.
My son did end up really loving this book - and I could recite it in my sleep by now. he did complain the first time about the use of the word duckbill, but I explained that the author probably thought that "Up with bellyfulls of Parasaurolophus dinosaur" might have been a bit too hard for some readers. The fact that he is willing to tolerate this infraction shows how much he really enjoys the story - and even Mega Parasaurolophus has come to enjoy - or at least so I am told by my son. It is a perfect book for reading out loud, as always Donaldson has perfect rhyme and cadence making this a real pleasure to read, but it is a good story as well. It is the type of book that you simply must read with loud shouting and growling for the T-Rex family and hooting and tooting and for Duckbills. It isn't the best book to take a long to a doctors visit or for traveling by public transportation, but it would be great fun in classroom and it is wonderful at home where we are free to be as noisy as we like.
This is intended to be read aloud, not as a book for a struggling new reader. While some aspects like the rhyme would help a new reader to guess at the text, and the overall vocabulary is not very difficult, I feel the style of the text and the mottled background it is printed on would make reading more of a struggle for brand new readers. I haven't rated down for this though as I really do feel this a book for parents to share with their children, rather than just give it to them to read alone.
I'm afraid I would only give this book a 3 for illustration, and even my son commented on drawings being not quite right. They are not in any way bad - they just are not brilliant either, and they certainly are not a match for Gruffalo . Despite this, we really do enjoy the story, even if it a bit of a rehashing of the Ugly Duckling tale. It does have a bit of moral to it, although I wouldn't quite class it as an anti bullying message. Considering the amount of fun we have had with this book - I really can't give it anything less than 5 stars, and my son agrees.
I do not normally agree with spoilers, but I do think parents may want to know the ending in some cases. I will not completely give away the ending this time, as I don't feel it is necessary, but I will go into just a bit more detail beneath my spoiler alert in case parents require further information before making a choice as to whether this is suitable for their child. Whether this counts as a spoiler or not I'm not quite sure in this case, but better to error on the side of caution. I truly hate when people give too many clues to the ending of an adult book - or a young adult book as many adults, myself included read those as well, but I feel most parents are more concerned with their child's reaction than any surprises in the story.
********************* SPOILER ALERT****************************************
The ending of this book is not violent, and no violence is ever shown. Drip shows us that brains can triumph over brawn in a very funny ending. We don't quite see the T-Rex's ultimate fate - the ending just engineers a way for them to be removed from the scene. My son does say they died though, but I believe this is the ending he wants - so they no longer pose a threat to the duckbills. You could say they have just gone far away though and either premise could be supported equally easily. I do not feel the ending is scary in any way, and neither did my son.
A book myself and my daughter have been reading recently is Tyrannosaurus Drip, the book is written by Julia Donaldson who is more famous for writing the Gruffalo stories and apparently is one od Gordon Browns favourite childrens authors. The book can be bought for around £4.50 for the paperback or about £7.50 for the hardback and the illustratuions are provided by David Roberts.
The front cover of the book shows two sets of dinosaurs the Tyrannosauruses and the Duckbill dinosaurs which to be honest I had never heard of, around the dinosaurs are lots of dark reeds and skeleton bones and my daughter actually said the front cover looked scary. The book is larger than A4 in size which I think is a good size to read and on the back there is a quote from The Times "The roaring, hooting, monster success of the season."
Inside the book you first meet the Duckbill dinosaurs which are a pale turquiose in colour although there are different shades of colours across the family they all look the same, the Duckbills live in a swamp and eat veg. Secondly we meet the Tyrannosauruses family who are different shades of red and orange and live in what looks like a graveyard, they look scary and they want to eat the Duckbill dinosaurs but they live on the opposite side of the river and they can't swim. A little Compsognathus a tiny little blue dinasaur steals one of the Duckbills eggs for her tea but she runs into the Tyrannosauruses and drops the egg in fear right into their nest.
When the egg hatches along with another two of their own they find that baby one and two are perfect but not number three, they don't like baby three as he is not scary and doesn't eat meat and give him the name Tyrannosaurus drip. One day when the Tyrannosauruses went hunting leaving drip behind as he was not fierce enough drip decides to have a look over the water and finds his true family. The same night there is a storm and it knocks down a tree right across the river making a bridge, the Tyrannosauruses delighted they can now get to the Duckbills set off across the bridge and meet drip in the middle, she tricks the Tyrannaosauruses by making them look at their own reflection in the water and scaring them until they try and run away but end up falling in the water, flying down a waterfall and as flushed all the way out to sea.
The pictures in this book are quite dark and on some pages my daughter did say it was scary, the pictures are very detailed and the surroundings behind each picture fits really well, the background for the Duckbills is cheery but the background for the Tyrannosaurses is dark and dismal.
The wording of the book is brilliant, the story is written in rhyme and flows really well, the is quite alot of writing on each page so this is certainly a book to be read to a young child and not one they will be able to read themselves for quite some time.
Both myself and my daughter loved the book once she had got over it being scary the first time we read it, my daughter found it funny when the Tyrannosauruses fly off down the waterfall. We always enjoy Julias Donaldson books and this one is no exception, 5 stars from us.
My son is now a self confessed "book addict" with his habit now on at least one a day, and this does not include whatever he can get his hands on at school!
He is open to try anything at least once, but his particular penchant is anything to do with dinosaurs, so the book I will now review was always going to be a hit with him!
The book I will now review is - "Dinosaur drip by Julia Donaldson".
The story starts with a picture of a herd of happy and very contented duckbill dinosaurs. They are happy because they live protected on one side of a river, and as they are vegetarians by nature, they are happy as the river is full of good things to eat, as is the swamp that is aside it.
On the other side of the river lives a grizzly looking Tyrannosaurus and his even grizzlier bride. They are more than happy to kill and destroy anything that comes into there path, but they are not happy as they are desperate to eat Duckbill dinosaur, but can't as the water is just too high in the river for them to cross.
Soon after a smaller dinosaur with a very difficult to pronounce name (but as the story says, we will call her comp!), managed to find and steal a duckbill dinosaurs egg to feed her young, so after stealing it, swimming across the river with the egg and almost getting back to her nest, she is frightened by the Tyrannosaurus's and accidentally drops the egg into their nest.
After the egg hatches the Tyrannosauruses don't seem to notice that one is different, but more the fact that the smallest one doesn't seem to want to fight or eat meat, so they rename him "Tyrannosaurus Drip".
Will Drip ever find out his true parentage, or will the T's persuade him his is one of them after all.......
This is such a fun book to read!
From the offset the text is all rhyming and has an almost rhythm to it, once found it makes the story telling process a much smoother experience!
I wouldn't say this was a particularly hard book to read, but is not what I would deem a starter reader, but more a bedtime book as we call it!
I loved all the descriptive text in the story, and how the illustrations mirrored the wording and situation. When the story was describing the wonderfully fulfilled world of the duckbill dinosaurs, the illustrations seem much softer and rounded, yet when describing the grizzly and hateful Tyrannosaurus's, the pictures are much more jagged and sharp looking, trying almost to portray how sharp and monstrous these characters are in comparison to the leaf eaters!
The illustrations are bright and blood colour when with the meat eaters and green and luscious when showing the vegetarians, either way the pictures are very striking and fun to look at, with there being much detail to be seen.
Price wise this is available from www.amazon.co.uk for the sum of £3.58 plus P&P.
For more information visit - www.panmacmillan.com
Thanks for reading x
The female sprog, I am very happy to say, is very keen on dinosaurs. I must admit that I should probably take some credit for this, as I've been at pains to foster and nurture her infant interest in palentology - having been buoyed up throughout by the idea that there's a good chance for parents being able to influence their kids to be interested in almost anything as long as they start young enough. (This being a notion that I've seen confirmed again and again on various reality-shows on the telly in which over-enthusiastic parents, following years of relentless indoctrination, end up with children who appear to be unfeasibly interested in their own Pet Topic: the couple of teenagers who, just like their mum and dad were featured as fanatical re-enactors of Portugese battles from the Napoleonic wars on 'Holiday Showdown' always stand up as an excellent case in point.)
So, 'Tyrannosaurus Drip' which was published in 2008 by Macmillan Paperbacks, was just another step in trying to get the sprog interested in dinosaurs, and it seems to have worked very well. It's written all in rhyme by Julia Donaldson, the children's author who wrote the prose for other popular children's books such as 'The Gruffalo', but is illustrated by David Roberts, rather than by Julia Donaldson's usual collaborator Axle Schleffer. That said, I think the charming, stylized and slightly bizarre illustrations for the book were its strongest point.
It's one of those approximately A4-sized thin paperbacks for children, printed on nice-quality glossy paper (all 32 pages of it), in full colour throughout. As aforementioned, the drawings - of dinosaurs and associated plant-life - are brilliant. I thought the rhyming prose was a bit dodgy in places as some liberties with rhyme and especially rhythm were taken here and there but that's a minor point; after a reading or two it's easy for the grown-up who's reading the story out loud to their sprog to bend the rules enough for the words to fit.
Personally I wasn't thrilled by the story, which is about a placid leaf-eating, duck-billed dinosaur being mistakenly raised by a pair of Tyrannosaurus rexes, which it subsequently tricks into being washed out to sea in a flood (with its two siblings, a pair of T rex babies), leaving the duck-billed dinosaur colony in safety, with the returning duck-billed chick hailed as a hero by its new companions. The fate of the T rex family is suggested (a small black-and-white drawing at the end suggests that probably survive being drowned) but is not specified.
I'm no expert on childrens' literature but I didn't like the 'message' of the book one bit: in the rhymes the Tyrannosauruses are said to 'like war' and chant 'down with duck-billed dinosaurs' (while the duck-bills are more peaceable, hippy, live-and-let-live types). I probably have a bit of a politically-correct bee in my bonnet about this kind of anthropomorphic characterization, but I don't think this is a helpful way to be thinking about relationships between herbivourous vs carnivorous animals in the real world.
Furthermore, the only thing my four-year-old ever asks about the story is 'whether the Mummy and Daddy dinosaur and their babies were all right?' She's talking about the Tyrannosaurus rexes, and although she's certainly not been traumatized by their fate or anything like that, I think she's hit the nail on the head. This is basically a beautifully-illustrated story about a bunch of dinosaurs who adopt a stranger into the bosom of their family, who then goes all psycho and tries to murder the lot of them. He does, if nothing else, succeed in turning them out of their home, all for NO GOOD REASON. I would have expected something better, and less mean-spirited from Julia Donaldson, I really would've. There is definitely a moral to the story of 'Tyrannosaurus Drip', I just doubt it's the one that was intended by the author of the piece.
The RRP is £5.99 for 'Tyrannosaurus Drip' but it's currently selling on Amazon for £4. It's recommended for children under the age of six.
The career that dinosaurs made in popular culture never ceases to astonish me: from Jurassic Park to Dintopia to Walking with Dinosaurs, but particularly in countless books, cartoons, feature length films, toys and games for pre-school aged and bit older children. I have to confess that the dino-mania has never particularly got hold of me (although I did, actually, have a plum-coloured small one living behind a hidden gate on the way to my kindergarten). I suspect the appeal must have something to do with the fact that dinosaurs are semiotically "anomalous" creatures: both real (with their reality confirmed by science) and un-real (has anybody ever seen one?), dwelling on this borderline between fantasy and science that produces such rich field for modern genre entertainments.
Leaving the theory of dinosaur semiotics aside, Tyrannosaurus Drip is a hilarious and very satisfactory dinosaur-based take on the ugly duckling story. A plant-eating Duckbilled Dinosaur egg finds its way into the nest of the terrifying, stupid bullies that are T-Rexes. When he hatches, he can't bring himself to sing the bloodthirsty battle anthem of the T's nor eat any meat - in fact, he's so feeble by T's' standards that his two sisters name him Drip.
I have a slightly ambivalent attitude to the Ugly Duckling archetype, as it can be read in two ways: one is to do with finding and following, one's "true identity", against the social (including family) pressure to conform. Drip does it with gusto and style, and definitely comes up trumps. The other side of the ugly-duckling model, however, implies that "you are what you are" - that everybody has their essential nature which is discovered rather than created, thus largely hereditary and that, essentially, you can't make a duck out of a swan (or a T-rex out of a Duckbill). I always feel like contrarily quoting "You can't turn a pig into a race horse, but you can turn it into a very fast pig" .
However, this has little bearing on our story, as the superiority of being a Duckbill (moral, aesthetic and intelectual) is unquestionable here. Drip manages not only to find his duckbilled compatriots, but also to dispatch the whole savage T-family to the universal acclaim of other dinosaurs and can now happily spend the rest of his days eating water weeds and being treated as a hero by other Duckbills. The cleverness and determination of the nice guy is celebrated, and the brutal, stupid force embodied by the T's is penalised.
The verse is signature Donaldson at her best: natural, smooth, rhythmical, supremely readable aloud and very, very funny; to the extent that I laughed while overhearing my husband reading it to our daughter.
The illustrations are also excellent. I am very glad to see more Donaldson picture books not illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Not that he's not a very comptenet, well liked illustrator, but not necessarily my favourite and besides that, the illustrations by David Roberts match the spirit of the text perfectly. Slightly surreal, but in a modern, angular rather than dreamy way; dynamic, with enough detail to engage and no pretence at being sweet at all; and again, hilariously funny.
Amazon classifies this title in the 5-8 years old bracket, but this is only assuming the child themselves was to read the text. The story is definitely an older preschooler story, and I would highly recommended it for reading aloud to pre-schoolers and maybe even P1 and P2s with shorter attention spans who tend to like picture books.
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books 6 Jul 2007