the thought of dinosaurs bring to mind fearsome, awe-inspiring creatures, think again! Author Mary Blackwood and illustrator
Kerry Argent team up to tell the tale of Derek, a dinosaur who is not fearsome, but nice!
the dinosaur, who is "little and green," bemoans the fact that he has no "back full of scales and . . . mouth full of roar."
Atypical for dinosaurs, what Derek likes best is "sitting and knitting." Derek longs to be like his brothers, Fearless and
not only likes knitting, he has a passion for it. Over the years, he has knitted so many dinosaur suits, "warm woollen boots
and mittens and tracksuits" that there is barely room for Derek in his snug stone house. While Derek knits, however, the climate
is slowly changing. The ice age is coming!
with cold, Fearless and Fang pay Derek a visit. Derek warms them with tea and outfits both brothers with surplus scarves,
sweaters, and blankets until the duo are toasty warm. After he has thawed out, Fang finds that he is glad "'that dear little
Derek would rather just sit, and go knittety knittety knittety knit!'"
and Argent work together to portray Derek, "little and green" – Derek fills only one-fourth of a double-page spread.
The reader sees Derek's mirrored back – a back not full of scales. The reader also sees Derek pushing on the
door of his house, trying to squeeze into a house that is nearly filled to overflowing with knitted garments and blankets.
There's one oversight here: Blackwood describes the house as stone, while the house in this illustration looks like more of
a stucco style, with palm trees in the background. A subsequent picture shows the house with stone and mortar lines.
rhyming text adds interest and motion to the tale. She cleverly drops the rhyme as she describes the world outside Derek's
house becoming colder – adding a disharmonious, ominous note. Argent, meanwhile, understatedly fills one-quarter of
this double-page spread with a flying pterodactyl that is getting pelted with snow.
the ending of this picture book is perhaps a bit predictable, the affirming nature of the tale, coupled with inviting illustrations,
makes for good reading!
Blackwood, Mary. 1990. Derek the knitting
dinosaur. Illustrated by Kerry Argent. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda. Originally published in Adelaide, Australia
(Omnibus, 1987). ISBN 0-87614-400-8.