by William Joyce
A Laura Geringer Book (HarperCollins), 1988,1995.
My friend Marie recommended this one. It was a favorite of her and her son’s when he was small. I borrowed the newer edition of Dinosaur Bob from the Library which boasts of “seven new illustrations, an additional adventure, and a song (“The Ballad of Dinosaur Bob”), with easy-to-play arrangements.”
While on their annual family vacation before the start of baseball season, the Lazardos find a dinosaur during a safari in Africa and decide to keep him, bringing Bob home to Pimlico Hills (America) where he is just too big to ignore.
When asked if they could keep the dinosaur, the father, Dr. Lazardo says, “I don’t see why not.” Bob (named after Mrs. Lazardo’s Uncle, whom the dinosaur bears some resemblance) joins them on the rest of their vacation before returning home to Pimlico Hills where a “pea-green” (with jealousy) Mrs. DeGlumly bullies her husband the Mayor into declaring Bob a menace. The “Lazardos and Lizard [go] on the Lam” but they are homesick. And the Pimlico Pirates could sure use Bob on their baseball team, seeing Bob as their only hope for even coming close to winning a game.
I’m not sure where the “additional adventure” comes in as I am unfamiliar with the earlier edition. There are a number of small ones in sequence as they vacation and return home, each in company of a charming illustration. The Lazardos are fun and creative, adventurous and homebodies. And clever and privileged enough to manage anything. If you have no boundaries, “I don’t see why not…”
What is so lovable about William Joyce’s picture books is how nothing seems impossible. Still minding the scale of a dinosaur, the adventures are portrayed as manageable, if not made all the better for Bob’s company. He is better than a family pet, able to play cards, baseball, the trumpet, and “Hokey Pokey like a fool.” The family, the dinosaur, the people they encounter (minus Mrs. DeGlumly) are appealing. Better, the sheer imagination Joyce imparts is infectious. What else could Bob do or the family do with Bob on an adventure? What kind of adventure would you like to go on at home or abroad?
Having more William Joyce illustrations must be a marvel. I love looking at them (in any of his work). His illustrations are just beautiful. Family Lazardo look like early-mid 20th century adventurers and many of the images look like travel posters or postcards—perfect for the story. Bob is a fantastic green hue, vivid and remarkable against the softer earth tones. Dinosaur Bob really is bigger than life—which is saying quite a bit because the Lazardo Family live a pretty big life.
of note: Jumbu, the family body guard, kept channeling Punjab from the film Annie—and now I feel a need to see it.