Very young children tend to have great energy, and they have a joyful, infectious sort of hubris to boot. Caldecott Honor-winning author/illustrator David Ezra Stein knows this and embodies this energy in Dinah, a baby dinosaur, the star of his new picture book, Dinosaur Kisses.
Dinah hatches newly from her egg and heads out: “There was so much to see and do.” She stomps and chomps with the grace of a sumo wrestler, but it’s when she sees two prehistoric creatures kissing that she’s determined to try this herself.
The problem, however, is that she lacks the agility to properly pull off a gentle kiss and ends up whomping, chomping and stomping everyone she meets. In one very funny illustration, her kiss turns into a giant bite on the backside of a dinosaur. “Whoops,” she says, as she hangs by her teeth from a brontosaurus rump. Later, she actually swallows another creature in a vain attempt to more carefully use her lips in the act of kissing. There’s a lot of humor in these bumbling moments: In one, she stomps on and flattens a fish walking on two legs. So much for that species. Dinah stomps happily on.
It’s only when another dinosaur baby emerges from a nearby egg that the two come up with their own brand of kissing: more chomping, stomping and whomping. A boisterous head-butt is their version of affection. Great minds think alike.
Infused with lively, attention-grabbing yellows and cheerful, stimulating oranges to match Dinah’s mood, the book is filled with thick black outlines and chunky lettering, including a larger, louder font for the “STOMP!”s and “WHOMP!”s and “KRAK!”s. The book’s dominating horizontal line, as we watch Dinah stomp along the horizon, makes for compelling page turns, also matching the great energy of the book.
It’s big, loud fun for rowdy, raucous toddlers. Mwah!