Dino Riders #5: How to Track a Pterodactyl – Will Dare

Illustrations – Mariano Epelbaum

It’s the wild west with dinosaurs! What’s not to love?!

I enjoyed reading this book so much that I’ve just finished it for the second time. With adventure, action, humour, potential danger, friends and foes, and a childhood hero in the mix, this was always going to be a fun read. Once you add the dinosaurs and cowboys you’ve got yourself a book that I imagine would pique the interest of even the most reluctant of readers.

Summer is almost over and Josh is meeting his friends Sam and Abi at the annual Trihorn County Funfair for some fun before they go camping. The trio are watching when a group of pterodactyls arrive and carry Josh’s hero and “the fastest, meanest, and bravest dino rider the Lost Plains had ever seen”, Terrordactyl Bill, away. It’s up to Josh, Sam and Abi to save T-Bill! They’re joined by Josh’s nemesis, Amos, and Amos’ sidekick, Arthur. I loved that everyone, even the kids, ride on the backs of dinosaurs and especially liked Josh’s triceratops, Charge.

The accompanying illustrations by Mariano Epelbaum are a mix of greyscale images in the same style as the front cover image, which are amazing, and diagrams on ruled paper that are intended to look as though a kid has drawn them, complete with short descriptions and arrows pointing out the important bits. I really enjoyed the main illustrations although found that the details didn’t always match the details of the story.

As soon as I discovered this book I knew I had to read it. Marketed as a new chapter book series I assumed it was the first in the series and didn’t bother to check prior to beginning to read. I’ve since learned it’s the fifth book in the series and the sixth is scheduled to be released before the end of the year. While I had no trouble following along without having already read the earlier books I loved this one so much that I now want to read the entire series.

New Favourite Phrase:

“Holy dino dung!”

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Welcome to The Lost Plains!

A wild west frontier where dinosaurs never went extinct.

Josh Sanders wants to be the next great dinosaur cowboy! Ropin’ raptors and ridin’ bucking brontosauruses just like his hero Terrordactyl Bill.

Too bad he’s stuck working on his family’s Iguanodon ranch, riding his ancient dino, Plodder. The closest Josh has ever been to a T-Rex is reading about them in his Dino Cowboy Handbook.

To prove he has what it takes, Josh is determined to win the annual Settlement Race. But he’s gonna need one fast dino to stand a chance. With the help of his friends Sam and Abi, Josh will need to tame a wild Triceratops!

How to Catch a Monster – Adam Wallace

Illustrations – Andy Elkerton

Spoilers Ahead!

The illustrations are brilliant in How to Catch a Monster, AKA, Confronting Your Fears and Discovering They’re Not as Scary as You Thought. Okay, so I wasn’t consulted during the naming of this book, thank goodness! So, the illustrations. They’re bright, colourful, detailed, kind of quirky and very engaging. I loved them!

The illustrations are brilliant in How to Catch a Monster, AKA, Confronting Your Fears and Discovering They’re Not as Scary as You Thought. Okay, so I wasn’t consulted during the naming of this book, thank goodness! So, the illustrations. They’re bright, colourful, detailed, kind of quirky and very engaging. I loved them!

The story is told in rhymes. Our main character has secured the role of ninja master in the school play so they’re feeling brave. Dressed in full ninja garb and with a backpack filled to the brim with tricks and traps, hero ninja kid (whose gender is never identified and I love this!) sets off to confront their monster. Yep, it’s a literal monster that hides in their closet.

Instead of finding something that belongs in your nightmares, hero ninja kid not only overcomes their fear but makes a new friend. Aww! There’s even some fart humour with a surprise as our monster’s farts smell like strawberries and lime.

My favourite element was the wind up shark that came out of the backpack of tricks but this is me we’re talking about. It was always going to be the shark. 🦈 😊

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

There’s a monster in my closet, 
with claws, and teeth, and hair, 
and tonight, I’m going to scare him!
He lives just right through there …

Get ready to laugh as a young ninja heads into the closet to meet the monster that’s been so scary night after night! But what if things aren’t what they seem and our monster isn’t scary at all? What if our ninja hero is about to make a friend of strangest sort?

If you dare to travel beyond the closet door and into the land of the monsters … you might just find the very best reward of all. But with robots, lava pie, and a smattering of traps – catching monsters is no easy business!

Is there a monster living in your closet? Are you brave enough to catch him? Parents and children will love sharing this fun and inventive picture book, which reminds us that things aren’t always as scary as they seem. 

Inky the Octopus – Erin Guendelsberger

Illustrations – David Leonard

Inky the octopus lived at the National Aquarium of New Zealand for two years before his great escape. Museum workers discovered mysterious prints on the floor one morning in 2016 and Inky was no longer hanging out with his tank mate Blotchy. Workers believe that after the lid on Inky’s tank wasn’t secured properly the night before Inky took the opportunity to escape through a drain pipe in the floor that led to the sea. Inky the Octopus is a sweet rhyming children’s book that tells this true story from Inky’s perspective.

When I first saw this book I was cautiously optimistic. I had previously read Rosie the Tarantula: A True Adventure in Chicago’s Field Museum and found it disappointing so I wasn’t sure what to expect from Inky’s story. While I thought that Rosie’s story wouldn’t really be of much interest to anyone that hadn’t bought the book at the museum’s gift shop (sorry, Rosie!), I was delighted to discover that Inky’s story would have a much wider appeal.

Erin Guendelsberger’s rhyming is lovely. It flows well and is fun whether you read it aloud or to yourself. I expect children will enjoy seeing Inky embarking on his adventure and if other adults are like me they’ll enjoy making up new imagined adventures and friends for Inky.

I plunge. I swim. I breathe. I whirl.

I float. I spin. I glide!

I’ll follow my heart wherever it leads.

I’ll travel far and wide!

Whether Inky is peering through a spyglass he’s holding with one of his tentacles, pleading with Blotchy to join him on his great escape or whirling with a blissful look on his face once he’s in the open sea, all of David Leonard’s illustrations bring Inky’s character to life. The expressions of joy, astonishment and horror of the various residents of the Aquarium as Inky sneaks past on his way to freedom are fantastic as well. I adore the great use of colour throughout the book.

There are even some wonderful bits and pieces to enjoy once you’ve finished reading the story. Immediately following Inky’s imagined story you’ll find information about Inky’s life, including a classic quote from the Aquarium’s manager who laments that Inky “didn’t even leave us a message” and a photo of Inky. You’ll also read about some Other Odd Octopuses and learn some very cool facts on the Are You Squidding Me?! pages. You can find out more about Inky’s story here.

Long story short, this is an interesting, informative and fun picture book that I expect you’ll want to read more than once.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Out of this tank, I must be free.
I must explore the open sea!

Inky the octopus is bored with aquarium life and wants to escape to the ocean! But just how can an octopus in a tank get to the open seas? Find out in Inky the Octopus, the only tale of the mischievous octopus to be officially endorsed by the National Aquarium of New Zealand.

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes – Mark Pett & Gary Rubinstein

Illustrations – Mark Pett

This book is just what both young and practiced perfectionists need. As a recovering perfectionist I know the struggle Beatrice goes through in this book, making sure everything is done just right. As a perfectionist she fears making mistakes and in living her ‘perfect’ life, she misses out on fun activities like ice-skating with her friends.

When the inevitable happens and Beatrice finally makes a mistake she learns that maybe making mistakes isn’t such a bad thing after all. After all, there’s less stress and more fun to be had when you learn to let go and remember you’re human like everyone else.

With a great message and engaging illustrations, I highly recommend this adorable picture book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Beatrice Bottomwell has NEVER (not once!) made a mistake …

Meet Beatrice Bottomwell: a nine-year-old girl who has never (not once!) made a mistake. She never forgets her math homework, she never wears mismatched socks, and she ALWAYS wins the yearly talent show at school. In fact, Beatrice holds the record of perfection in her hometown, where she is known as The Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes. Life for Beatrice is sailing along pretty smoothly until she does the unthinkable; she makes her first mistake. And in a very public way!