The Adventures of Grandmasaurus
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The Adventures of Grandmasaurus
The picture book audience’s fascination with dinosaurs has been fulfilled in a wide variety of ways: dinosaurs curling up with books (Jane Yolen’s How do Dinosaurs Learn to Read?); dinosaurs on point (Brontorina from James Howe back in 2010); and, this year, a punky dinosaur performing at a talent show (We Will Rock our Classmates by Ryan Higgins).
Now author Caroline Fernandez brings readers a grandmother who looks very traditional on the outside (think a slightly hipper and more polished version of Tweety Bird’s Granny) who has an amazing power. She can sneeze herself into being a dinosaur. In fact, into being a whole lot of different dinosaurs.
Grandma is helping out with a school field trip to the natural history museum. She is in charge of Moonie, a tall boy with dark curls, and an unnamed narrator, shorter and blonder, who appears to be her grandson. However, it is not long before readers realize that it is Grandma, herself, who needs supervision.
…a silver sparkle of museum dust soared up Grandma’s nose.
Dust + sneezing = Grandma’s funny business.
Grandma’s disappeared. Poof!
“Uh-oh,” I whispered.
“Not again!” Moonie cried. “Where is she?”
…Then we spotted her.
Grandma has changed into a small blue upright lizard, an Eoraptor. And, as the Eoraptor scurries off, neither boy seems totally surprised that such an unusual thing could happen with Grandma on the scene.
More sneezing, more transformations, from Eoraptr to Zuniceratops to Ankylosaurus. The next version of Grandma, a rather vicious-looking Utahraptor, displays some bad behaviour in pushing through the cafeteria line on her way to becoming – not a T-Rex, the boys hope!
Then we heard a moo. A roar. A moo-roar.
It was coming from the lobby.
“Wowzers, she’s as big as a building!” Moonie proclaimed.
“Brach-i-a-saurus. Herbivore. Long neck.” I whispered.
Grandma Brachiosaurus moo-roared again.
“STOP!” I said. “Where’s your indoor voice?
You can’t yell in a museum!”
Grandma doesn’t moo-roar again but instead sneezes to become a pterodactyl. Moonie gleefully points out that a pterodactyl isn’t even a dinosaur; it’s a flying lizard. Then, just in time for the bus, there’s Grandma again, with her animal-print scarf and shoulder bag, looking like a sweet elderly lady and winking at the boys, and at readers.
There is a helpful chart on the last page of the book featuring silhouettes of the dinosaurs met during the story (plus a few more) which includes several main traits or identifying features of each. In the book’s text, each time Moonie and friend exclaim over a new version of Grandma, pronunciation is assisted by having the dinosaur’s name separated out into individual syllables.
Full-colour illustrations by Toronto artist Shannon O’Toole appear to be executed in watercolour and ink and show the interior of a busy museum with the dinosaurs and the continuously astonished boys moving quickly through the foreground to follow Grandma’s antics. In the background, there are lots of other visitors and many details of their activities that invite closer examination.
The Adventures of Grandmasaurus is a pleasant addition to the dinosaur (and grandparent) section of school and public library shelves.
Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, British Columbia.