Review of You Can’t Be a Pterodactyl!

You Can’t Be a Pterodactyl! You Can’t Be a Pterodactyl!
by James Breakwell; illus. by Sophie Corrigan
Preschool, Primary    Paulsen/Penguin    32 pp.
7/23    9780593110652    $18.99
e-book ed.  9780593110669    $10.99

Tommy aspires to be a pterodactyl when he grows up. Easy, right? When he announces his dream to the class, however, he is met with laughter from his classmates and dismissiveness from his killjoy teacher. The titular refrain is lobbed at Tommy throughout the day. He has answers to everyone’s objections (to “There’s no money in being a pterodactyl,” he rejoins, “People will pay me to pick them up and fly them places”), but the teasing takes its toll. Luckily, Dad knows how to comfort and encourage his imaginative child. Corrigan’s bouncy, cartoonlike illustrations feature simply drawn characters, with color and shading providing depth. After an evening of soaring around the backyard together with blankets as wings, Tommy’s dad encourages him to follow his inner-pterodactyl dreams. Whether it be dino lovers or fans of prehistoric flying reptiles (as Tommy reminds us, pterodactyls are not dinosaurs), this story speaks to anyone who dreams of the seemingly impossible.

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Hill Saxton

Hill Saxton is a youth services librarian at the Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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