Quote of the Month

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

Monday, May 2, 2022

Evolving Into

It is not only determined by a date on the calendar.  The shift from standard time to daylight savings is not a sole indicator.  Its arrival is truly announced by a sound.  It is a sound absent for many months, then one day it returns.  The sound's melody greets the day, surrounds us, and lifts into the sky.

This sound is the chorus of birdsong.  These avian marvels are returning to their homes, some staying and others moving farther north.  They are the true heralds of spring.  To add to the fascination of their essential existence, author illustrator Deborah Freedman in her newest release Tiny Dino (Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, April 19, 2022) explores the direct connection between dinosaurs and birds.

Long ago, there were many kinds of dinosaurs.


After these first few words, readers are asked a question.  A voice replies with

I'm a dinosaur!
I'm a dinosaur!

It is the voice of a hummingbird.

Hummingbird continues to joyfully declare kinship with dinosaurs.  When a turtle friend asks about the stomping and clomping dinosaurs did with their feet, the hummingbird points out the similarities between the toes of a Tyrannosaurus rex and the bird's toes.  Turtle and now friend frog point out the huge toe size and the huge bone size of the dinosaur.

Hummingbird proclaims that both have hollow bones.  Each time Hummingbird's friends suggest what they believe to be a difference, Hummingbird counters that said characteristic is shared.  When pals Turtle, Frog, and Mole state dinosaurs had claws and were fierce, the tiny avian verbally explodes.  Hummingbird is


When a crocodile approaches, Turtle, Frog, and Mole flee.  With all this dinosaur talk, they believe Crocodile to be a dinosaur.  Crocodile says he is not a dinosaur.  Hummingbird agrees, but supplies all the physical features they share.  They are related.  Turtle asks one final question.  Hummingbird shouts out her refrain.

With absolute conversational clarity, author Deborah Freedman takes readers into the story of a hummingbird that proves his truth.  Each time Hummingbird declares he is a dinosaur, one of his friends counters with facts they believe disproves his statement.  He then shows they are wrong with supporting evidence.  In this manner, Deborah Freedman introduces an engaging cadence while providing information about dinosaurs, birds, and other animals.  There are also factual captions next to detailed drawings of relevant, enlarged characteristics.  Here is a passage.

But look---
I have scales
on my toes.

And you 
have scales on
your toes!

Crocodiles and birds have
similar scales, called scutes.
Researchers believe that
feathers evolved from scales!

The image on the dust jacket extends from flap edge to flap edge.  The body of the Tyrannosaurus rex continues over the spine to the far left.  On the left side of the jacket, the back, readers can see one of the dinosaur's feet is holding the ISBN.  The body of the Stegosaurus, similarly stretches to the right flap edge.  Hummingbird is already voicing his truth to the listening trio of featured prehistoric creatures.  The title text and front flap text are varnished.

Hues of light blue, softly textured, are the canvas on the book case.  The Tyrannosaurus rex is outlined in white in the same position as shown on the jacket.  A darker blue dotted loop-de-loop pattern indicates the flight of Hummingbird.  The bird is flying toward the right edge of the front of the book case.  The posture of Hummingbird mirrors determination.

The narrative begins and concludes on the opening and closing endpapers.  The images are wordless.  On the first set Crocodile, Mole, Frog, Turtle and a white bird are moving to the right edge.  A Brontosaurus, also moving to the right, fills both sides.  Above them in a faintly blue sky, a flaming asteroid falls from the left-hand corner.  They are moving through a grassy landscape. On the final endpapers with a faint blue sky and grassy area, Crocodile, Turtle, Frog, and Mole move to the right.  In the sky Hummingbird loops toward the right.  White outlines show us the three dinosaurs showcased on the dust jacket.

Prior to the title page, another illustration has two dinosaurs running as the asteroid gets closer.  On the title page, a question is asked.  Hummingbird answers, three times.  The third answer contains the title text.  Turtle is entering from the right edge.

With each page turn, readers will feel their appreciation growing at the presentation of the story and the information.  Set in pastel watercolor washes are different shaped speech balloons containing the conversations.  When physical traits are compared, those are done in white on blue.  They are intricate.

White space is masterfully used.  It creates pauses in the pacing.  Perspectives shift to furnish us with a sense of being a part of the story.  The majority of the images are double-page pictures.  

One of my many favorite pictures contains a lot of white space.  It spans two pages.  On the far left we see portions of Mole's, Frog's and Turtle's bodies peeking in from the left.  Above them, Hummingbird hovers.  On the far right, just one eye and the large mouth of Crocodile is presented.  (He is coming from the right edge.)  His mouth is open.  Some sharp teeth are depicted.  Crocodile is saying

Pardon me!
Did I hear that dinosaurs
still roam the earth?

Whether this book, Tiny Dino written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman, is read by an individual or as a group read aloud, you can expect to have it read repeatedly.  To have the facts woven artfully in the narrative and images is a gift.  At the close of the book are an author's note and a list of resources.  Even here, Deborah Freedman still educates us while continuing the story along the bottom of both pages.  I highly recommend this title for both your personal and professional collections.

To discover more about Deborah Freedman and her other books, please visit her website by following the link attached to her name.  Here is a link to Lesson & Activity Ideas, & Resources made by Deborah Freedman.  Deborah Freedman has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior illustrations.

UPDATE:  Deborah Freedman is interviewed about this title at Writers' Rumpus.  The interview is in-depth and includes her artistic process.  (July 1, 2022)

No comments:

Post a Comment