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Children's books about dinosaurs 🦕
Notes From the Reading Nook: September 19
Well, I’ll be honest: the past few weeks have been demanding — the transition to 1st and 4th grade has been a rougher one than any of the years past for no discernible reason (which makes it all the more disconcerting, because if I cannot identify the source of a problem, it makes coping with the side effects feel like a crapshoot); the emotional labor required of me at work (not to mention that labor-labor) has recently quadrupled; I’m finding it hard to settle and concentrate on anything.
When I miraculously have an hour and a half before sleep to do whatever I please, I fritter it away — paging through books, randomly reading without any real depth; overly preparing for the next day (my children pack their own snacks but on these nights I end up doing this for them, and I set out my work clothes on my dresser, and I check and check and check the weather); sometimes just walking around my house aimlessly. I find (read: I invent) a list of things that I cannot let go undone — the black overalls I bought for my Halloween costume that I don’t need for six weeks have to be washed right now, the three boxes of things from my grandma’s house that I still need to go through must be gone through right now, and oh, my husband needs me to give him a haircut, an occasional favor that usually takes about five minutes? Let me run the clippers over your head and beard for half an hour in the cold garage, as if time, and agency over that time, aren’t our life’s most precious commodities.
This happens occasionally — probably more frequently in times of stress or duress — but I’m telling you, I never understand it. Even though it doesn’t surprise me anymore, I still cannot pinpoint the genesis of this phenomenon, and if there’s one aspect that I hate more than the circumstance itself, it’s this: my inability to parse the opaque reasons for it, the fact that when I cannot identify the source of a problem, it makes coping with the side effects feel like a crapshoot. Look at that.
I suspect that a more-than-insignificant amount of my writing — for the past 20 years on the internet and in private — is about uncertainty: how thoroughly uncomfortable it is, how undeniably human it is, how deeply and totally I hate it. I have written and written and written about this — here and elsewhere — and it never changes. It never changes.
But I do.
Every unexpected and weird and painful thing I’ve gone through this year has had within it at least one colossal gift, and I am not the same person I was before, not a year ago, not even last February. And each transformation — because I can now see there has been more than one — happened without my knowing, basically, anything about it. I couldn’t identify the source because I didn’t even recognize it while it was happening; I certainly couldn’t tell you I was changing or how.
I was — have been — deeply unsettled, and I have frittered. A lot. I don’t have a glass of wine, I don’t hit the dopamine-pipe of social media again and again; I don’t impulse-buy shit online: I waste my own time. (There is a reason I’m using the word “frittering” and not “puttering,” because it’s different, though, when I write it out like this and gain some clarity, it isn’t a pattern I love, it’s also not the most terrible one, either.)
There’s a Thomas Merton quote (I don’t know its original source; it’s prob completely made up) that speaks to all of this:
“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it’s all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”
Maybe reading a recipe for okra pickles and then another about beet kvass and then another about fermented collard greens before packing my kids’ snacks and doing some laundry and bantering with my husband and moving my body from room to room is my own embracing — or attempt at embracing — the possibilities and challenges of the present moment with courage, faith, and hope.
If it isn’t, fine: I don’t need to know. I’m gonna go with this: the idea that I am accepting what is, right now, without knowing or understanding, via a process that perplexes and even frustrates me.
There are real and significant limits to my brain, but none to my heart.
And isn’t that where courage, faith, and hope live?
And aren’t those the only real antidotes to uncertainty?
Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston (this is our current audiobook in the car)
Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry G. Allard
Mini issue: Dinosaurs! 🦖
Back in April, I wrote a mini issue on construction inspired by the phases of obsession many — most — young children go through at one time or another between the ages of 2-6yo. I mentioned that, among other things, we experienced a dinosaur phase — my eldest had a dinosaur party when she turned four — and I’ve heard the same from others, to the degree that, when you contact me about books you need, dinosaurs come up the most often. (Who knew?)
Darcy, a long-time faithful subscriber of this newsletter, has a kiddo whose dinosaur obsession is probably not a phase but a life passion, so when she offered to help me with some dinosaur titles for this mini issue, I enthusiastically accepted. What follows is a collaboration between me and Darcy — she contributed many titles, for which I’m grateful. (Thank you, Darcy! 🙏)
Dinosaurs Can’t Roar by Layla Beason
When Dinosaurs Came with Everything by Elise Broach
Fossil Huntress: Mary Leakey, Paleontologist by Andi Diehn (nonfiction biography)
How Dinosaurs Went Extinct by Ame Dyckman
Fossil by Clarie Ewart
The Girl and the Dinosaur by Hollie Hughes
Pakkun the Wolf and His Dinosaur Friends by Yasuko Kimura (Darcy says this is quirky, and the illustrations are lovely)
Tyrannosaurus Math by Michelle Markel (math reader, pictured below)
The Dinosaur Expert by Margaret McNamara
Dinosaur Feathers by Dennis Nolan
Time Flies by Eric Rohmann (wordless but gorgeous)
Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontology
by Linda Skeers (nonfiction biography)
What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night: A Very Messy Adventures by Refe and Susan Tuma
How Do Dinosaurs… by Jane Yolen (series)
The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth
The Dinosaur’s Diary by Julia Donaldson (early chapter book)
Dinosaur Club by Rex Stone (series of early chapter books)
Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst
Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne (also a regular Magic Tree House chapter book)
Nonfiction and/or reference
Tony T-Rex’x Family Album: A History of Dinosaurs by Mike Bento
Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Life by Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan
Big Picture Book of Dinosaurs by Laura Cowan
Dinosaurs: A Visual Encyclopedia (2nd Edition) by DK
National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs by Catherine D. Hughes
Dinosaur A to Z by Roger Priddy
Dinosaurium by by Lily Murray and Chris Wormell
Dizzy Dinosaurs: Silly Dino Poems by Lee Bennett Hopkins (early reader)
In the Past by David Elliott (nonfiction; pictured above — the illustrations in this one are stunning)
Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian
Dinosaur Poems by John Foster
Bone Poems by Jeff Moss (pictured below)
Four & Twenty Dinosaurs by Bernard Most (a dinosaur spin on well-known nursery rhymes)
Tyrannosaurus Was a Beast: Dinosaur Poems by Jack Prelutsky
Goodnight Dinosaurs by Judy Sierra
Can You Dig It? by Robert Weinstock
Dinosaurs are Forever by William Wise
Dinosaur Dances by Jane Yolen
On this week in the past…
Read good books and take good care 😘
P.S. All Bookshop.org affiliate links are affiliate ones. I can’t even do the math on how much I receive — is it 10%? No. More? No. Less? No? I don’t know, but it all adds up, and I’m grateful for your support in even the smallest way.