Book: Danny and the Dinosaur

Danny and the Dinosaur
by Syd Hoff

Extinct no more
The dinosaur
Exhumed from childhood past

Befriend this beast
To show, at least,
Great stories always last.

Note: I met Danny and his pal, Dino, last week after my partner insisted that we simply must track down her fav book growing up.

I had never heard of it, but Nick has been obsessed with all things dragon, dinosaur, and monster, so this story about a young boy’s friendship with a brontosaurus he picks up at the museum fit the bill.

It has a similar look and feel as the Harry the Dog books – my partner’s second favorite character – with bold, colorful illustrations and easy-to-read text, making it a great choice for the underline-the-word-as-you-go method of reading to toddlers to help them make the connection between the spoken and printed word.

As expected, Danny and Dino have great adventures – they take in a ball game, hit the city zoo, and get tangled in clothing lines. Ah, sweet youth.

This is clearly a book from another era:

1. Guns appear on the 2nd page – it is a natural history museum, after all.

2. There are no PC-police-mandated multicultural characters.

3. There’s no snark.

Don’t get me wrong – I heart some hardcore TWOP/Gawker snark as much as the next person –

Just not in my children’s books.

So when Dino plays hide and seek with kids, then gets discouraged when he can’t hide his 75-foot, 25-ton body, Danny convinces the other kids to pretend not to see him…even when he’s “hiding” behind a lamppost.

It’s sweet, compassionate and understated, just like the rest of the book.

Bonus: The 3-volume set of Danny’s adventures can be picked up for the price of a venti mocha.

The sacrifices we make for our children…


2 Comments on Book: Danny and the Dinosaur

  1. I, too, was a huge Danny and the Dinosaur fan. We just picked it up from the library last month, and Donna really liked it.Me, I liked it, although it was a bit more like one-thing-happens-then-another-thing-happens than I remembered. In the intervening thirty-plus years, I’ve found out that Syd Hoff also did single-panel gag cartoons. Knowing that, the book feels very much like a loosely linked strings of 1-3 panel gags, albeit very gentle ones.The detail that caught me as ‘no longer happening today’ was when Danny saw an Indian and an Eskimo at the museum. There they were, cartoon gag archetypes, standing on little round platforms for people to look at. I wonder if that was in the version you got… I know that some books have been cleaned up. I don’t know how I feel about that. While on the one hand it seems a bit silly, I know I had a moment of discomfort when we turned to that page and Donna said, “What’s an Indian?”

  2. It’s funny – I haven’t read this book for story time yet, but my plan had been to skip page 2 and 3 (page 3 has the guns) for the very reasons you mentioned.Censorship, I know. I think it’s a personal choice for each family, which is why this great book hasn’t shown up yet. When we read it, Nick gets the usual lecture – “these are stereotypes that people believed when this book was written” – but who knows how much of that actually sticks with a 2 year old.I’ll admit to being uncomfortable with cleaned up revisions. It feels too close to visual Newspeak with a sprinkling of “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” thrown in.Maybe I’ll bring Little Black Sambo to story time and see how that flies. 😮

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