Nicholas is afraid of some things: the dark, the bushes where the big bugs live, the world under the manhole covers, even the opposing soccer team’s big goalie. But Nicholas has a secret to overcoming his fears: his dinosaur. He keeps his dinosaur with him always, in his pockets or tucked in his sock, because the dinosaur is never scared of anything and helps make Nicholas feel brave. That is, until the day that Nick loses his dinosaur on the soccer field and must return home through the scary dark before he is able to find him. Nicholas is too embarrassed to reveal that his dinosaur was the one making him brave, but if he doesn’t tell someone, how will he ever get his dinosaur back? All seems lost… until Nicholas’s dad, Big Nick, is able to find a way to help his son.
This one was really beautiful. There are some wonderful lessons to take away: that it’s okay to feel afraid, and that opening up to your parents when you’re upset, even if you find your problem embarrassing, means that they can often help you and are more than happy to. I didn’t love that Nicholas felt that he couldn’t show weakness to his mother, but it did foster the trusting bond between him and his father, so it’s easy to overlook. Santat’s art is a perfect fit here, mixing the real world with the sublime seamlessly, using color and atmosphere to bring Nicholas’s imagination to life. The length is great, and JJ and I both really enjoyed this one. A touching story, especially for fathers to share with sons, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!