cover image Dad and the Dinosaur

Dad and the Dinosaur

Gennifer Choldenko, illus. by Dan Santat. Putnam, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-24353-0

Even though Nicholas’s father, Big Nick, is “not afraid of anything,” Nicholas is afraid of “the dark outside his door, the bushes where the giant bugs lived, and the undersides of manhole covers.” A small plastic dinosaur Nick keeps in his pocket gives him courage, and Santat (Are We There Yet?) leaves no doubt about its power: in times of need—whether striding under a night sky, trying to climb a rock wall, or racing down the soccer field—Nicholas is seen accompanied by a giant, ghostlike tyrannosaurus that provides assistance and confidence. When Nicholas loses his lucky dinosaur, he and his father set out on a nighttime quest to find it: “It’s guy stuff,” Big Nick tells his wife. Choldenko’s (Putting the Monkeys to Bed) poignant fantasy envisions a father who, like a certain tyrannosaur, looms large in his son’s mind. Her knowing, understated storytelling and Santat’s warm, expressive spreads give full credence to the fears that weigh on kids, as well as the presences—both real and imagined—that can help alleviate them. Ages 5–8. [em]Author’s agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. Illustrator’s agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Mar.) [/em]