A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
FEBRUARY 4:

  • Happy birthday Russell Hoban (Bread and Jam for Francis), Barbara Shook Hazen (Tight Times), Pat Ross (M & M series).
  • It’s also the birth date of civil rights activist Rosa Parks (1913–2004), Rosa Parks: My Story.
  • In 1789, George Washington was unanimously elected the first United States president. Read George Washington’s Socks by Elvira Woodruff.
  • Happy birthday Facebook, founded in 2004. Read A Smart Girls Guide to the Internet by Sharon Cindrich, illustrated by Ali Douglas.
  • Today is Bubble Gum Day. Read Trouble Gum by Matthew Cordell.

The first week of February has been set aside to celebrate children’s authors and illustrators. I’ve already written about the author of the book of the day, How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? Jane Yolen. Today I would like to sing the praises of illustrator Mark Teague.

I recently had the pleasure of sharing an autographing table with Mark at the Albany New York Children’s Book Festival. A treat it was indeed. I watched as families and young children brought this title reverently to place before their favorite illustrator to sign. Over fifteen years ago, Mark was a very young man when his editor paired him with veteran writer Jane Yolen for a bedtime manners book. With a lilting rhyming text, the book begs to be read aloud, and children have demanded multiple readings of this book since it appeared.

At first readers get treated to bad dino behavior: “Does a dinosaur slam his tail and pout?/ Does he throw his teddy bear about?” But eventually they learn the appropriate way for a dinosaur to say goodnight—hugging, kissing, and turning out the light. To this extremely enjoyable text Mark Teague has brought humor and liveliness with art that extends the words in the best picture book fashion. These dinosaurs loom large on the page; they overextend the beds; they dwarf the human parents. Numerous dinosaur jokes and pictures appear on the walls. Finally the dino shrinks down to child size for the last line, “Good night. Good night little dinosaur.”

The endpapers show the dinosaurs featured in the book. And although this title seems whimsical, it actually has been based on a great deal of dinosaur research. Mark Teague has learned from experience that even the slightest incorrect detail about these creatures will cause his sternest critics, children, to write to him. Hence the book serves as a natural history lesson about dinosaurs—as well as a spectacular bedtime story.

If by chance you have missed this gem, be sure to share it with your little dinosaurs as soon as you can. I am grateful for illustrators like Mark Teague who pays such attention to the details of very funny books for children. As an artist he understands the huge role picture books play in the visual literacy of young readers. And he works to make all those details correct. Because of the kind of attention and care Mark paid to the art in How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?, it has become a much-loved title that both families and picture book aficionados have embraced.

Here’s a page from How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?:

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Originally posted February 4, 2015. Updated for .

Tags: Bedtime, Dinosaurs
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