Never Show a T-Rex a Book

Authored by Rashmi Sirdeshpande
Illustrated by Diane Ewen
Published by Penguin

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This book’s provocative title instantly made me wonder why. What disasters follow if one commits the folly of book sharing with a dinosaur? The answer is a joyous tribute to the life-changing potential of words, books and libraries.

The book opens by repeating the warning of the title and adding a challenge to imagine what would happen. What if the dinosaur then learnt to read? Perhaps the impact would be immense; not only would she acquire vast knowledge, but she would become full of hopes, aspirations and passions. The delightful illustrations show the mayhem that would ensue as dinosaurs invade the classroom, and the anarchy as they govern the country and prioritise cinemas and popcorn… and libraries.

An adult sharing this story might see the witty parallels with the exhilarating, exhausting process of imparting a love of books to one’s child. The child reader, meanwhile, will relish the silliness of the notion of the well-read T-Rex squashed into cupboards, terrifying the teacher and becoming Prime Minister. But readers of all ages will see the huge power of books, their range, their scope, their richness. They will marvel – afresh or for the first time – at the joy of libraries where you can take out ‘a lot of books. A LOT of books’. T-Rex celebrates this by staggering under an enormous pile of texts ranging from Beowulf to Bad Jokes. One of the delights throughout is the plethora of book titles which add an extra layer of humour; the rich and comic details of Diane Ewen’s illustrations will certainly reward multiple re-readings.

This is a book to read aloud and enjoy. I would guarantee giggles at the sheer exuberant comedy, and it is a book that could be shared in school with a class and then enjoyed at home with parents too. Albeit playful, the author’s message is persuasive; libraries can spark curiosity and feed enthusiasms. That is a timely truth worth sharing with parents and children alike.