Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Roaring Into Christmas

When a kitten, puppy, bright red dinosaur or new baby enter our lives, it's a welcome reminder of all those firsts we may have forgotten.  To watch them experience rolling in the spring grass, jumping in a mud puddle, the sound of thunder, wading through a pile of leaves or running into a snow drift is like stepping back in time.  Our everyday activities taken for granted are completely new adventures for them.

Wait a minute!  Bright red dinosaur?  Yes, the toothy toddler is boldly back, flashing his irresistible grin roaring after each and every victory.  He has met and matched bedtime, the potty and the library (Dinosaur vs. Bedtime, 2008), (Dinosaur vs. the Potty, 2010) and (Dinosaur vs. the Library, 2011)(reviewed here).  Whether the folks at the North Pole are ready or not, Dinosaur vs. Santa written and illustrated by Bob Shea clearly reveals our prehistoric pal is as rambunctious as ever.

I'm getting ready for Santa!

Coming in from the snowy cold our fearless friend first tackles his letter to Santa.  It's a win for Dinosaur.  Next up is decorating, followed by presents for Mom and Dad; both wins.  

Oh, oh...this might be a problem.  Can he resist the cookies and milk left out for Santa?  Or even more challenging, trying to sleep on Christmas Eve?  

Restless he hears the sound each and every child longs to hear, the jingle of bells.  Don't go downstairs, Dinosaur.  Santa might see you.  Did Santa see you?  Sleep and Christmas morning tell the tale.

With a pattern readers have come to appreciate Bob Shea's spare narrative proposes a task amid a a series of roars, followed by a flurry of activity with a tremendous single roar and then those two triumphant words, 


The most enjoyed (and tempting) moments in preparation for Christmas at home, letter writing, decorating the tree, hand-crafting gifts for parents, setting out the cookies and milk and the anticipation of Santa's arrival are written with great care for the intended audience by Bob Shea. Word choice captures the exact state of affairs; for cookies and milk it is Dinosaur versus...being extra good!  The series of segments when Dinosaur is avoiding sleep are hilarious as is the trip down and back up the stairs when he hears Santa.

Readers are treated to a seasonal front and back jacket and cover, the one a green background with Dinosaur decked out for the holidays, a foiled candy cane stripe down the left side, the other red as Dinosaur kneels in front of the tree on Christmas morning.  Endpapers, opening and closing, are in a three-hued yellow green argyle pattern with a grinning, dancing, Santa hat-wearing Dinosaur in the center of some of the diamonds.

Combining traditional drawing with digital, Shea's bold painted lines are filled with bright colors.  The addition of actual items, crayons, Christmas ornaments, a tube of glitter, Christmas cookies, printed papers, are part of his unique, inviting style.  Tiny details set his work apart; the pinpoint white breeze lines when Dinosaur leaves the door open, the different Christmas sweaters he wears, when he puts his letter in the mailbox to Santa he remembers to wear his boots, the glass holding the milk is a Christmas glass or the small pink heart near his Dad when he opens his gift from Dinosaur.  

Every DINOSAUR WINS! is different in color, pattern and font but reflects the event.  As each set of circumstances is captured in text, the illustrations elevate the moods, happiness, caution, indecision, fear and joy.  You can't help but grin when he is or feel empathy, especially those last four facial expressions before he drifts off to sleep.

Bob Shea has penned and pictured an outstanding addition to his Dinosaur series, Dinosaur vs. Santa.  Make sure you share this book with one or many, using your best roaring dinosaur voice.  Everyone wins.

By following the link to my previous review you can gain further insight into Bob Shea's process in creating his illustrations.  The link embedded in his name will take you to his website as well as his Facebook page.  Tucked in the back of this book is a very special piece of paper for readers to write their letter to Santa.  

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