Objects can be magical things to small children. My son used to say goodnight to all kinds of things in his room – the picture of Thomas the Tank Engine, his stuffed animals, even the lamp on occasion. When he was in preschool, he wore a laminated picture of us (Mom and Dad) around his neck for several weeks. He got very sad when we left him in the morning, and he could feel like we were with him if he had the picture. (Meltdowns solved!)
So I grok Nicholas and his dinosaur. He doesn’t feel brave, but the dinosaur is like a rabbit’s foot– magically making him feel confident enough to scale walls, score goals, get through his day. Then, horror of horrors, the dinosaur goes missing! He doesn’t say anything to Mom about it, but he mentions it to Dad, who understands how important it is, takes Nicholas on a late-night expedition to find it, and honors the dinosaur’s place in Nicholas’s life. Some parents might just say, “Fine. Lose the dinosaur. Too bad.” But once in a while, finding the lost thing means that it’s easier to move on from it later on. I loved the book, and it’s a great book for dads, showing them as the important and caring guys so many dads are.
None of this excellence comes as a surprise. Gennifer Choldenko has written some of my favorite middle grade novels of all time. Dan Santat has illustrated some of my favorite picture books. Feel free to collaborate again, you two!
Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko and Dan Santat