Catrow, D. (2009). Max Spaniel: Dinosaur Hunt. New York: Orchard Books.
Appetizer: Max Spaniel is on the case! Kinda. In this early reader (part of a larger Max Spaniel series), Max decides to hunt for a dinosaur. Max quickly discovers he has to take his search outside and use a bit of imagination to find what he's looking for.
Guys this book is adorable. The text manages to capture a sense of childhood. For example, when Max decides to take his search outside, he has to decide what to bring. And he tries to drag more than he could possibly carry.
This reminded me of when I was little and going on a trip to my grandparents' house. Packing the car with all my toys took many trips and my dad eventually had to inform me I had to choose among my toys so he'd be able to see outside the car's rear window.
The illustrations are excellent, including a lot of humor and energy to share Max's story. They manage to portray Max both as childlike AND doglike. Which is impressive. But, even better, they show Max's sense of imagination. At one point, Max holds up a small tree branch and claims that it is a dinosaur bone. This is a wonderful way to draw new readers in to use their imagination.
"My name is Max.
I am not a dog.
I am a great hunter."
"I have an idea.
I will go outside.
What can I take?"
"So I hunt
and I hunt
and I hunt
and I hunt.
I don't give up."
To Go with the Meal:
This would be a wonderful story to discuss the five senses with students since Max uses all of his senses to try and find dinosaurs.
Since Max labels body parts (such as knee, eyes, lips, etc.) as he goes on his dinosaur a teacher could have students point to and name their own body parts as they read.
After reading the book, a teacher could have students have their own scavenger dinosaur hunt around the classroom or playground, encouraging students to imagine the everyday objects are part of the dinosaur.
Tasty Rating: !!!!