Friday, August 20, 2021

Picture Book Review: Theo Thesaurus: The Dinosaur Who Loved Big Words by Shelli R. Johannes, illustrated by Mike Moran (2021)

Quick Booktalk

Theo Thesaurus, who loves words, is dismayed when he starts at a new school and not everyone is interested in his large vocabulary. 

About the Illustrations

The illustrations in this book feel like they would very easily translate to animated video. Theo, his parents, his teacher, and his fellow students all have dramatic faces, whose eyes and mouths are often exaggerated to show emotion. The background on each page is pretty plain and the palette is colorful but not very bold or bright. 

Story Time Possibilities

This story is not just about having a big vocabulary. Rather, Theo's love of words is used as a vehicle to point out the way someone who is different might be excluded or misunderstood. Though the fun vocabulary words are entertaining, the underlying message feels pretty preachy, which might make me hesitate before sharing it with kids. Because of the focus on vocabulary, it feels like a book for kindergartners at the youngest, but it would probably work best for second and third graders who are beginning to read more independently and might enjoy spicing up their vocabulary.

Readers Advisory

If you're looking for a less fancy alternative to Fancy Nancy, this is probably a decent choice. It introduces fancy words in a classroom environment but without all the details about clothing and tea parties and such. Still, I mostly don't think kids love to learn vocabulary in books that are written specifically to teach them vocabulary, and this fell flat for me for that reason. 


I received a finished review copy Theo Thesaurus: The Dinosaur Who Loved Big Words from Philomel Books in exchange for an honest review. 

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