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*Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School* by Ian Whybrow, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds

Also illustrated by Adrian Reynolds:

Bear Flies High

Bear's Day Out
Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School
by Ian Whybrow, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds
Grades PreK-1 32 pages Random House Mary 2007 Hardcover    

It’s Harry’s first day at a new school. He’s very excited because his friend Charlie will be starting that day, too. But the dinosaurs aren’t too happy about school. Stegosaurus doesn’t want to go because Triceratops told him there were no “Raaahs” allowed in class. Harry’s sister Sam teases him, telling him that “you can’t take dinosaurs to school, silly!” Harry pushes her, causing her toast to fall on the floor.

At school, Harry’s teacher, Mrs. Rance, mistakes his bucket of dinosaurs for his lunchbox, leading to the bucket being left behind in the hallway outside the classroom. Harry misses his dinosaurs terribly and so doesn’t enjoy the classroom, the art corner, or even the monkey bars at recess.

But Harry notices that another boy seems to be worse off than him - a new boy with a digger who cried when his mother went home and then refused to speak a single word after that. When the boy needs to use the bathroom, Harry offers to take him.

On the way back from the bathroom, Harry and the boy (who turns out to be named Jack) run into Harry’s dinosaurs, and Harry enjoys pointing them all out: Apatosaurus, Anchisaurus, Scelidosaurus, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus, and Pterodactyl, the baby of the group. Stegosaurus, who is hiding, will only come out if he can have a ride in Jack’s digger.

Jack is happy to oblige and starts to chatter away happily after this. This leads to all the dinosaurs coming into the classroom (it turns out Mrs. Rance will let them “raaah” in class after all) with the boys. Harry, Jack, and Harry’s friend Charlie spend a happy day together at school with the dinosaurs.

The story is pleasant, and the theme of reaching out to someone more shy than themselves might be helpful to a kindergartener nervous about his or her first day at a new school. However, the storyline lacks cohesion for a child who is picking up a Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs book for the first time. The introduction of minor plot elements and characters, such as a random squabble between Harry and his sister and the fact that his friend Charlie is mentioned on the first page but does not reappear until the end of the story, dilute the storyline.

The illustrations are bright, crisp, and very cute. In fact, they hold more appeal than the text of the story, and a young child will enjoy poring over the pictures of Harry’s dinosaurs and of the classroom. The inside cover with illustrations of the different dinosaurs and a pronunciation guide to their names is a nice touch.

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  Usha Reynolds/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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