Sunday, 3 April 2011

BOOK REVIEWS ~ Katie and the Dinosaurs ~ By: James Mayhew

Thanks to inter-library loans, we were fortunate to get our hands on yet another "Katie" book.  It came all the way from Rosetown!

Katie and the Dinosaurs
"Katie and the Dinosaurs" is one of James Mayhew's earlier books, printed in 1991. This one is, at least in my opinion, not quite up to the same standard as the books Mayhew has written about the various artistic movements and their painters, as it is harder to believe something like this could actually happen.

Mayhew uses the same initial format.  Katie and Grandma go to visit the local natural history museum.

"Come and look, Grandma, come and see the dinosaurs!" Katie urges in the first sentence of the book.

Grandma isn't impressed and replies, "They're just a bunch of old bones!"  [If Grandma didn't like viewing dinosaur skeletons, then WHY did she TAKE Katie to the natural history museum, in the first place??]

Katie then throws in the ultimate insult and says "But you're really old.  You MUST have seen live dinosaurs when you were little."

"I'm not THAT old!" snorted Grandma, looking for someplace to sit down.  She found a seat next to a skeleton of a very fierce looking dinosaur.  "Why don't you go and look at your horrible dinosaurs while I have forty winks," said Grandma.

"They're not horrible," sniffed Katie.  "But I do wish they weren't just skeletons."  And she skipped off, taking her picnic lunch with her, just in case she got hungry.  Katie saw spiky dinoasurs, fishy dinosaurs, flying dinosaurs, horned dinosaurs, long dinosaurs, and more.  She closed her eyes and tried to imagine that they were alive.  She thought they must have been very frightening with their sharp teeth and claws."

Katie walks down a corridor and is soon lost.  She is supposedly scared and wondering what to do.  Then she comes "to a big door with a sign on it that said:  ABSOLUTELY NO ADMITTANCE WHATSOEVER."  Despite any misgivings Katie might have had, she opens the door and steps into a forbidden world.  Immediately she spies a HADROSAURUS [HAD-row-SAWR-us ~ "big lizard"].  It is alive! 

Katie is no longer afraid and talks to the Hadrosaurs, who just happens to be lost, too!  Apparently it has been chased by a TYRANNOSAURUS REX [Tie-RAN-oh-SAWR-us rex ~ "king of tyrant lizards"] and is separated from its parents.  Katie decides to help the Hadrosaurs find its family.

Katie and the Hadrosaurus begin to climb up a steep slope.  Katie thinks it is a hill, but it turns out to be the tail and back of an APATOSAURUS [A-PAT-uh-SAWR-us ~ "deceptive lizard"].

Surprisingly, the Apatosaurus doesn't seem to mind.  Once they are "very high up" Katie tells the reader she can "see for miles."  From their high perch, they can see a riverbank and some PTEROSAURS [TEH-row-sawr ~ "flying lizard"] flying across the sky.

One of the Pterosaurs spots Katie's yellow scarf and swoops down and snatches it.  Suddenly the Apatosaurus starts moving.  The reader is told "she was getting tired of those two noisy creatures [Katie and the Hadrosaurus] jumping around on her back. They made her itch!"

The Apatosaurus "lumbered down to the river for a nice cool bath.  She was so huge that Katie and Hadrosaurus hardly got wet at all!  From high up on the Apatosaurus's back Katie could look right out to sea.  All sorts of strange creatures were swimming there."  Two of these were ICHTHYOSAURS [IK-thee-oh-sawr ~ "fish lizard"] and PLESIOSAURS [PLESS-ee-oh-sawr ~ "near-to-lizard"].

When the Apatosaurus reached the edge of the water, Katie and the Hadrosaurus slid down to the tip of its tail and land safely on the ground.  From here, the Hadrosaurus leads Katie through the jungle, where they encounter a group of STEGOSAURS [STEG-oh-sawr ~ "plated lizard"].

Katie is worried and tells her companion, "I don't like the look of them."  Hadrosaurus assures his new friend that the scary creatures are plant eating and won't hurt them.  So, Katie feeds them grass before moving onward on her adventure.  The Hadrosaurus found his parents and his Mama and Papa hugged Katie, thanking her for her help in returning their little one to the fold.  Then Katie remembered her picnic lunch and kindly shared her cucumber sandwiches and chocolate cookies.  The dinosaurs "shook some strange-looking fruits out of the trees and they all ate until they were full."  Katie shared her food with a STYRACOSAURUS [Sty-RACK-oh-SAWR-us ~ "spiky lizard"], a TRICERATOPS [Try-SER-a-tops ~ "three-horned face"], and IGUANODON [Ig-WAN-uh-don ~ "iguana lizard"] and some ANKYLOSAURS [An-KILL-oh-sawr ~ "rounded lizard]. 



Suddenly the "best picnic Katie had ever had" was interrupted by a Tyrannosaurus Rex.  "He wanted meat -- he wanted Katie!"  The Hadrosaurus instructed the girl in the red coat to "run for your life."  Katie did so, with the dinosaurs quickly following her.  They ran through the jungle and towards the river.  Finally Katie "could see the museum ahead of her."  She eventually remembered the meat pie she was saving in her lunch box.  Katie tore a chunk off and threw it at the Tyrannosaurus Rex.  Amazingly, the T-Rex stopped and sniffed the piece of pie. "He ate it up.  He liked it so much that Katie threw him the rest, even though she had been saving it for herself.  And Tyrannosaurus Rex padded off into the jungle again, clutching Katie's lunch box."

Katie said good-bye to the Hadrosaurus (who kissed her) and then made her way back through the door and into the museum corridor.  She was able to easily find her way back to where her Grandma was waiting.

"Where on earth have you been?" asked Grandma.

"I've seen all kinds of dinosaurs," said Katie, "Why don't you come and see them, too?"

"All right," said Grandma.  "Where do we start?"

"This way," said Katie, and off they went.


... I wonder if Katie took Grandma back to the forbidden dinosaur land or if they just looked at the "old bones"?  We'll never know!


There area a few more "Katie" books in the series that we have not yet had the pleasure of reading but, unfortunately, it appears they are not available in any of the libraries in the Province of Saskatchewan, which is a shame, indeed!

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