REVIEW: Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko and illustrated by Dan Santat

Published: 28th March 2017

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons (an imprint of Penguin Random House)

Pages: 40

Format: Hardback picture book (borrowed from the library)

RRP: $35

4/5 Stars

A heartwarming father-son story about bravery and facing fears. 
Nicholas was afraid of the dark outside his door, the bushes where the giant bugs live, and the underside of manhole covers. 

His dad was not afraid of anything.
Nicholas wants to be as brave as his dad, but he needs help. That s why he needs a dinosaur. After all, dinosaurs like the dark, bugs are nothing to them, and they eat manhole covers for lunch (and everything under them for dinner). 
With his toy dinosaur, Nicholas can scale tall walls, swim in deep water, even score a goal against the huge goalie everyone calls Gorilla. But when the dinosaur goes missing, everything is scary again. 
Luckily, his dad knows that even the bravest people can get scared, and it s okay to ask for help facing your fears. It s just guy stuff.


Dad and the Dinosaur is a story about a young child who has a lucky dinosaur that allows him to be brave like his Dad. He takes this dinosaur everywhere and has a bunch of clever coping mechanism for when he doesn’t have pockets (the dinosaur is tied to his shorts, tucked under his pillow and hidden in his socks). The dinosaur is his biggest secret … until one day it goes missing after an epic game of soccer. Lost, and after a bad nightmare, Dad volunteers to help and they go searching for the dinosaur.

I love Dan Santat’s illustrations. This book uses mostly dark colours to represent the child’s fears of the encroaching dark, but there is still so much depth and detail evident on every single page. Santat has used a variety of methods to layer his images, to represent the courage and bravery the lucky dinosaur gives the child.

Gennifer Choldenko’s narrative is engaging and quickly draws you into the story. Her characters were vibrant and full of life, but I was disappointed by the quick brush off of Mum’s concerns when Dad and child disappear late at night. I understand the need to protect the child’s secret, but is it really that bad if Mum knows too? I don’t think so. I’m having a hard time balancing it against ideas of toxic masculinity, to be honest, despite knowing that was not the intention of the book. Why couldn’t the child be scared and not have to hide it from everyone?

Apart from the line, I really enjoyed the book and found it uplifting and full of hope. It’s the perfect book for a young reader struggling with fears and anxiety to show them that they are not alone.

TO purchase a copy of DAD AND THE DINOSAUR, visit the following online retailers:

Amazon AUS |Amazon US | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks |


To learn more about Gennifer Choldenko, visit the following social media sites:

Gennifer’s Website | Facebook | Twitter |


To learn more about Dan Santat, visit the following social media sites:

Dan’s Website | FacebookYoutube | Pinterest


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