Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Dinosaurs Night Before Christmas by Anne Muecke

The Dinosaurs Night Before Christmas by Anne Muecke, illustrated by Nathan Hale

Rating: 5 stars

On the night before Christmas, "[t]he fossils were standing where they always stood / Looking out o'er a now fast asleep neighborhood." Across the street, a small boy looked over at the museum and wished the dinosaurs good night as he turns off his night light.

Then a band of young duckbills, all dressed up in holly,
Invited the boy, with a gesture quite jolly,
To stand upon their heads and reach out way far
And top their tall tree with a bright Christmas star!
Then, to his surprise, the fossils start to sway.  And move.  And come to life!  He is surprised to see that "the dinosaurs' bodies were growing anew-- / Sprouting rainbows of colorful feathers and scales / From the tops of their heads to the tips of their tails!" He jumps out of bed and runs across the street, happy to find the museum unlocked (!!).  He wonders if the dinosaurs will be hungry after being asleep and without food for so long...and find a meaty boy like himself delicious...when a dinosaur comes up behind him and...kisses him!  Because he's standing under mistletoe, of course.

"With a pat on the back and a cup of eggnog, / The boy helped the kind dinosaurs light their yule long. / And together they joyfully danced 'round the fire / Singing holiday songs in melodious choir."  The icing on this magical cake of a night is the appearance of Santa-sauras, pulled by eight dino-deer.

The next morning, the dinosaurs have turned back to fossils, though a sprig of mistletoe in the T-Rex's dinky hand hints at the mischief that was had.

Landing safe in his bed on soft pillows of down,
The boy waved as Santasaur flew over the town.
This is a must-buy for any dino-lover, for sure.  The story and the rhyme alone are fantastic and cute and magical, but the illustrations!  Man, the illustrations are top-notch.  Nathan Hale does a fantastic job of creating dinosaurs that are simultaneously real and sweet--no easy feat.  The book was published five years ago, great as ever.  I doubt any copies have turned into fossils yet!

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