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:
- 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.
- 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specifications, there are also mentions of birds, and small mammals, and the usual "millions of years ago" phrase, has been replaced by a more neutral, "once upon a time".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.