Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Ugly Duckling Dinosaur

I was a tiny bit hesitant when the folks at Blue Slip Media asked if they could send us Cheryl Bardoe's latest book, The Ugly Duckling Dinosaur, A Prehistoric Tale, to review.


It's not that we don't like dinosaurs, in fact D (age 8) is a dino-maniac, right now. And, he can often be spotted lugging Dorling Kinderly's Great Dinosaur Atlas around, wherever he happens to be going.


But, when it comes to dinosaur books, it seems that a Christian/creationist parent has two choices:


  1. Contradict, and edit the author anytime, and pretty much every time, a date is mentioned, while keeping a constant eye out for the "e" word.


  2. Read only Christian books, trying to avoid the quacks, and fake scientists, while putting up with fictional tales (that could be true, but are not currently based in fact) of dragons, and Native Americans hunting Pteranodons.

I didn't need to worry, though. The Ugly Duckling Dinosaur can be read with equal ease by creationists and evolutionists alike. At least. until you reach the author's notes at the back, which land firmly in the evolutionary camp, but are still interesting.

As the title suggests, it's a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's Ugly Duckling, with a fresh twist, but keeping enough of the original message, and form, to be easily recognizable.

And, as far as it being a prehistoric tale - while "real" dinosaurs are mentioned by name, and illustrated according to the current scientific specifications, there are also mentions of birds, and small mammals, and the usual "millions of years ago" phrase, has been replaced by a more neutral, "once upon a time". It is after all a fictional story, so why not.

I really liked the illustrator's notes, in which he explains the difficulties in finding scientific information to base his illustrations on, and points the reader to a painting of the Vagavis, on which the ducks in the story are based, and the accompanying article at livescience.com. The article is written from an evolutionary standpoint, but can be seen as another feather in creationist's caps.

I'm not sure if the children cared, one way or another, about all of the above, but I do know they loved this book. Because, not only did they read it independently a number of times, while I was trying to research out all the facts, but they also asked me to read it to them several times. That's pretty rare praise in our house.

And, of course, you know a book that good, deserved a cookie to go with it...


It's great to be a homeschooler.

13 comments:

Wonder Mom said...

Eek! You cookies are the best part of this post...so cute!

(Not that I didn't glean much from the book review- because I did- I just always enjoy your cookie posts!)

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Wonder Mom - Ugh...thanks, I think :) Come back later, and I'll show you how to make them.

Annette W. said...

I seriously think you need a cookie label!!

Yep, I hear you on the dinosaur books. We have a couple by Ken Ham, but really, our Creationist dino books are lacking. (Though we don't have many in the other camp either.)

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Annette - Cookie label is on my to-do list!

Beloved's Bride said...

Thanks for the book review. Do you have any Dino book suggestions? I also do your #1 and your #2 when it comes to look at books.

Cute. Cute Cookies.

Raising a Happy Child said...

We got this book too, and to be honest neither of us cared much about it. I thought that it's a very awkward take on Andersen's story, and somehow the story didn't flow. Anna loves dino books, but she was pretty lukewarm about this one. The only moment she liked is when T-Rex tried to camouflage herself.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Natalie - That's interesting. I'm thinking my kids liked the dinosaurs being mixed with the ducks. They thought the camo part was funny too - I thought that could lead to a good craft extension.

Debbie said...

I am so lucky in that Selena only cares about looking at pictures of dinosaurs, forget reading about them. She can name almost every single one, but will not allow us to read a single book to her. Love the cookies.

Joyful Learner said...

Where do creationists stand on dinosaurs?

Yummy looking cookie!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Joyful Learner - If you take the Bible very literally, then all animals, including dinosaurs, were created during the first seven (six really) days of the world - together, and fully formed, and less than 10 thousand years ago. Most creationists also point to the flood, and then change in environmental conditions post-flood as the "cataclysmic event" that wiped them out. Non-creationists generally date the world as older due to faulty carbon dating, and as far as I can tell, pure stuborness :) But, that's a whole other can of worms.

Ticia said...

Oh, what a good idea of a cookie label! It looks like a super cute story!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Beloved's Bride - I wish I did have more suggestions - I'm getting just about desperate enough to write my own series - "Dinosuars, Just the Facts!" :)

Christy said...

This book looks cute.