Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Littlest Dinosaur and the Naughty Rock

The Littlest Dinosaur and the Naughty Rock by Michael Foreman & Camilla Reid, Bloomsbury Paperbacks

The littlest dinosaur is in a bad mood, and doesn't know why. He does knows that his dad can cheer him up, so goes to find him. Dad is asleep, and doesn't want to talk to an angry little dinosaur: 'well, if that's the way you're going to behave, I'm not going to talk to you at all.' In fact, no-one in the family can be bothered helping the littlest dinosaur understand his bad mood, or express how he is feeling. The story is at best a valuable lesson in how troublesome emotions in a toddler can quickly escalate from a bit of a grump to a full blown tantrum (throwing his lunch in a puddle), and at worst a lesson in how to make a child feel confused, humiliated and alone: ' the other dinosaurs could see him up there, all by himself. He felt terribly ashamed.'
The 'reveal' that the naughty rock is actually a wise old tortoise offers a small glimmer of hope to the deflated littlest dinosaur, by explaining  to him that everyone sometimes has bad days, but if you are polite then people will be kind to you. His gentle guidance may be a highlight in the story, but the small dinosaur is still the one that has to go back and beg forgiveness from his family. No lessons in sensitivity for them, then.
I was disappointed that our local library has several copies of this book, in the main because I don't believe that it is appropriate to normalize a punishment where the child is shamed and feels labels themselves 'naughty'. Early years are a time to guide a child and build self esteem not destroy it, even for dinosaurs.

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