Sandra Boynton’s Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs! is an opposites book, and I own the board book version. It is very well-worn because one of my children loved it as much as the Boy loved The Velveteen Rabbit. The book must have been a gift because I don’t remember purchasing a brief rhyming book filled with silly-looking dinosaurs. I certainly never expected it to be one this child would be able to recite before learning to read. (Neither of my kids ever cared much for dinosaurs.)
But who can resist “Dinosaurs BIG and dinosaurs TINY,” followed by “Dinosaurs SMOOTH and dinosaurs SPINY” (written in a spiny font). When Dinosaurs COLD is contrasted with Dinosaurs HOT, the pink dinosaur with teal sunglasses flexes his muscles.
Do they look like real dinosaurs? Sorta. Some have horns, and some have spikes. Quite a few are a cute shade of purple. But this book is not meant to teach anything beyond opposites like “early” and “later,” which rhymes surprisingly well with “elevator.”
The midpoint of this book reads, “Dinosaurs singing a dinosaur song!” Six dinosaurs hold music and open their mouths wide to sing. Boynton has included musical notes, along with harmony for this brief tune, notes which I plunked out on my piano. This musical gem is from the same woman who composed Grunt: Pigorian Chant, which she has described as “plainchant and polyphony written in Latin and Pig Latin.” Her Philadelphia Chickens album went platinum.
Boynton has written more silly songs in a variety of styles, from blues to country to ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll. They’ve been recorded by B.B. King (“One Shoe Blues”), Kate Winslet (“I Need a Nap”), and Samuel L. Jackson (“Tyrannosaurus Funk.”) Friends, I found an entire Spotify playlist.
In this column we’ve covered a lot of award-winning books, and we will continue to do so. But not every book needs to be serious. Not every story needs to stir deep emotions and lead to late-night conversations over hot cocoa. It’s possible to simply enjoy something goofy by the creator of the birthday card that has sold over 10 million copies, “Hippo Birdie Two Ewes.”
Boynton has also sold more than 70 million books. Many, many a bookshelf has a well-worn, well-loved Sandra Boynton book, one that taught a child to read before they could actually handle phonics.
For a long time I’ve known I’m a sucker for silly dinosaur books, like Tea Rex and Brontorina, and I think that traces back to this book. It’s just one cardboard-backed example of the things I’ve gotten into because of my kids. Thank goodness.
1. Name a silly book you or your kids enjoyed.
2. You do know we’re big fans of chickens around here, right?
3. Do you have a song that consistently makes you smile? Is it possibly as good as Turkey Love Song, sung first to a chicken and then a duck?
The next Children’s Book Club will meet Friday, September 13. We will read Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel by Val Emmich with Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul.
This YA book (with some YA language) is the novelization of Dear Evan Hansen, the Broadway musical, now touring nationwide. It’s a story about suicide, and September is Suicide Awareness Month. Sometimes the best way to talk about something difficult is to share a story, and this one is not only well-told but also has the added benefit of a dynamite soundtrack, available on your streaming platform of choice.
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“Megan Willome has captured the essence of crow in this delightful children’s collection. Not only do the poems introduce the reader to the unusual habits and nature of this bird, but also different forms of poetry as well.”
—Michelle Ortega, poet and children’s speech pathologist