Thursday, September 24, 2009

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs by Giles Andreae and Russell Ayto

Absolutely loved this book, it was full of bright illustrations and imagination and I cant wait to read this to a student. I feel like it takes two of the biggest wonders of childhood and slaps them together into one silly book. One interesting thing about this book is that the story starts on the same page as the dedication and the copyright information. I liked how it was all incorporated and allowed the story to start right away. Another thing that I liked about this book was that it didn't necessarily follow the traditional pattern of writing. By this I mean that, although some of it was in paragraphs, a lot of it wasn't. There were words that were bigger than others, words in different fonts, words that stuck out at different angles and sometimes you had to look for the words. The illustrations here were very entertaining and full of detail, and they too weren't traditional. Sometimes they were set up like a comic book, with boxes around the action. Other times the picture covered the whole page with no horizon line and sometimes there were pictures within the illustrations. In addition to the actual story, they provide a lot to look at and talk about with students. It may sound kind of busy and I suppose that it could be, but it really didn't bother me. For me, as a reader, it excited and interested me and I think that that is what it will do for students.

The story was a good one as well; even though it was silly there were some great points being made. For example, the story is about friendship and teamwork, two very important themes for children to learn. So if you read it for no other reason, there is always that. Now after our last couple of class discussions I have been thinking about stereotypes and things of the like. With that in mind, I noticed several things, some good and some bad. First of all, I noticed that the teacher was a woman and the ship captain was a man. Those are two very stereotypical roles for men and women. I also noticed that even though a girl came along on the adventure, which was good, it was the little boy who ended up saving the day. I did really like how there was a little girl though, and she actually had a part to play in the book. Those things didn't really take away from the story or anything else, it was just interesting to me to think about. One last thing on the text, is that because there are actual scientific dinosaur names, this book could be good for introducing a unit on dinosaurs and getting students comfortable with the words.

The library suggests this book for students ages 3 to 6 and I think that sounds about right. Even though a three-year-old couldn't read this on their own, they would enjoy the imagination and bright illustrations in the book. Older ages would find this interesting too just because it may speak to specific interests that they have. Personally, I would have this book in my classroom and I would recommend it to other teachers as well.

ALSO! Good news! There are other books about the Captain Flinn out there too!

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