by Doug Florian


Written and Illustrated by Douglasaurus Florian

Summary: The doubly talented Douglas Florian has used his magic with words and with art to create another delightful poetry book, Dinothesaurus. Poems begin with “The Age of Dinosaurs” and end with “The End of Dinosaurs”, with 18 well known (Tyrannasaurus rex) and obscure (Minmi) dinos in between. It closes with a “Glossarysaurus,” a listing of museums and fossil sites, and a bibliography. There is a simple pronunciation guide for each of the dinosaurs.
This book invites close attention to detail, as clever nuggets abound in the illustrations. The stegosaurus (pictured in a dunce cap) is described as dumb, and numerous synonyms for dumb (foolish, daft, dull) can be found within the picture. Mr. Florian’s sense of fun is also evident in his poetic wordplay, which is a perfect complement to his art. About the giganotosaurus he writes “When it was hungry or got into fights, it opened its jaws and took giga-bites,” and he illustrates the creature wolfing down assorted computer equipment. The reader is likely to notice new details with each reading.
Ideas to use in the classroom or library: First of all, this book is sheer fun! Enjoy the rhythm of the words, let children fill in the rhyming words, have them help look for details in the illustrations. It might be best read by using a projector so that everyone is better able to see. Some of the details (like the hearts between Iguanadon and Iguanadonna) would be hard for a child sitting in an audience to pick out. Encourage them to participate and point out details.
Introduction to a thesaurus and vocabulary development: Before reading the book, show the students a thesaurus, and explain that it is a dictionary of synonyms. Give some examples, and discuss why a thesaurus is a helpful tool. Read the book, encouraging children to point out synonyms when they see or hear them. For a follow up activity, give students a piece of paper listing several sentences about dinosaurs with two or more adjectives each, such as: The fat dinosaur walked through the wet grass. The sleepy dinosaur ate the small bug. Have older students use the thesaurus to use synonyms for as many of the words as possible to make a new sentence. For example, using a simple student thesaurus (your school library may have a classroom set) the first sentence could be changed to read: The burly dinosaur trudged through the soaked grass. For younger students, you might show how you use a thesaurus to change some of the words, and then have them discuss or demonstrate how they have the same basic meaning but paint a little different picture. For example, have volunteers demonstrate these different ways to walk- stroll, trudge, tramp, stride, plod.
Have students use their own creativity to have fun with words and create a name poem that describes themselves! Mr. Florian has been known to sign email correspondence as “Douglasaurus.” How might you change your name to sound like a creature? My first name is Traci, so I might be Traciratops. How could I incorporate that into a poem that describes me? It might start-
I am a Traciratops, Of dinos I have a fearatops
If they came anywhere nearatops I’d want to disappearatops!
Making up words for poems should not only be allowed, it should be encouraged! Poems can be illustrated and displayed as part of a dinosaur unit, poetry study, author study, or just for fun.
AR: Dinothesaurus is appropriate and fun for all ages. There is not an AR test currently available.
Other books by Douglas Florian include (partial list):
  • Beast Feast 1994
  • Insectlopedia 1998
  • Mammalabilia 2000
  • Lizards, Frogs and Polliwogs 2001

Information for this page submitted by Traci Henning 2009