Saturday, February 24, 2024

How Dinosaurs Went Extinct: A Safety Guide by Ame Dyckman

by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Jennifer Harney

My son doesn't read picture books much anymore; he's too busy devouring a chapter book a week. And since I'm not working as a children's librarian right now (though I'll always be one at heart), I don't really have much reason (or time!) to pick up new picture books.

So when my son saw this book in the Scholastic Book Fair catalog, he circled it and said it was one he wanted to read. We found it in the library system and checked it out immediately. He thought it was funny but only read it once before he was ready to return it.

Of course, I read it too. We've read so many of Dyckman's books over the years, and they're always funny and enjoyable.

However, this one started off a little iffy to me.

I rolled my eyes at the typical dad mansplaining, then figured I was being too sensitive. After all, it's a picture book. And maybe Dyckman was trying to make a statement? But I wish he hadn't interrupted the mother, who was actually trying to teach her child a lesson. The dad speaks up and uses the rest of the book to share stupid reasons dinosaurs went extinct. They're funny, yes. But I could imagine this happening to me, and I would prefer the child learn the truth while in the museum since there's so much to explore there. On the drive home, the dad can be as silly as he wants with the rest of the reasons. 

That said, I know I'm projecting based on my own personal experiences. I still wish this page wasn't there. What if it was just the dad and kid at the museum that day and he was offering silly explanations? Why does he have to interrupt the woman?

The reasons are pretty funny, though, because they're things kids do, like picking boogers, running with scissors, and tipping backward in a chair. And you can probably imagine how Gasosaurus went extinct.

So I can admit that I might be taking this book a little deeper than intended, but I'll still argue that this plot point could have easily been rewritten to not have a man interrupting a woman just to share a lot of nonsense, since that's already so prevalent in everyday society. I've shown the page to two friends (females, one librarian, one writer) and they felt the same way, so it's possibly an issue beyond my personal bubble.

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