Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dinosaur Opposites, Dinosaur Colors, Dinosaur Shapes and Dinosaur Numbers by Paul Stickland

Dinosaur Opposites, Dinosaur Colors, Dinosaur Shapes and Dinosaur Numbers
Written and Illustrated by Paul Stickland
Copyright 2010
Source: Sterling Children's Books

Dinosaur Opposites, Dinosaur Colors, Dinosaur Shapes and Dinosaur Numbers are slender books with gorgeous illustrations for preschoolers. I have mixed opinions of the books, which is a little surprising when you consider the fact that they're all by the same author.

Dinosaur Colors is a book that contains a single word -- the color -- per two-page spread.

I love the fact that the dinosaurs are not exclusively one color because, as you see in the spread of the color "blue" above, there is a little green goo dripping off one dinosaur's back and the other dinosaur's belly is pink. The fact that the word "blue" is written in the correct color makes it perfectly clear which color is the focus of each page spread, but then you can point at the other colors and say, "What color is his tummy?" or "See the tree? It's a different color, isn't it? Do you know what color?" So, there's plenty of room for interaction.

The same is true for Dinosaur Shapes. There is a highlighted shape for each two-page spread but a bit of crossover with a bold color to identify and then one or more shapes to find on the opposite page, where the dinosaurs are doing something: standing on squares, bouncing with a triangle in hand, holding up a rectangle.

The dinosaur holding a triangle also has triangular-shaped stripes on his back and sharp, triangular teeth to point out to a little one while the page spread about circles contains a spotted dinosaur.

Dinosaur Numbers is much the same as Dinosaur Shapes with a large number on the left-hand page and dinosaurs on the right. Note that there are two dinosaurs to go with the number two, but three bones so you have an opportunity to count something different and talk about the fact that the number of dinosaurs and the number of bones is not the same, the number two is red, and the two dinosaurs are not the same color:

I think Dinosaur Numbers, Dinosaur Colors and Dinosaur Shapes are all excellent. The concepts are clear and there's plenty to talk about beyond the the subject matter. So there's a surprising amount of learning material within each book. And, you can see the dinosaur pictures are absolutely adorable.

Unfortunately, Dinosaur Opposites is a completely different story. I neglected to take an interior photo and now my photo-editing software is freaking out on me, again. So, you'll just have to trust me when I say the illustrations in Dinosaur Opposites are mystifying rather than precise in their representation of concepts. The page spread that shows "fast" and "slow", for example, shows two different types of dinosaurs running. The slow dinosaur is a bulky triceratops and the fast dinosaurs (there are three of the same type) are leaner. But, all are running and it's not particularly clear who is running faster. In fact, the "slow" dinosaur is in the lead.

Three recommended, one not recommended - It feels a little odd to say three out of four books in the same series are recommended and one not, but I think Dinosaur Numbers, Dinosaur Colors and Dinosaur Shapes are all excellent little books for preschoolers, yet Dinosaur Opposites is simply too vague. Having said that, I will backtrack on myself and note that "lumpy" versus "spiky" is pretty clear and Kiddo says "good" and "bad" is works for him because one dinosaur looks like he wants to eat the other and the "good" dinosaur has an, "Oh, sh*t" look on his face. I'd advise flipping through Dinosaur Opposites (or searching for interior photos online) before buying, but the rest are terrific little books with charming illustrations and plenty to talk about beyond the subject matter.

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