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THE DINOSAUR DUSTER

Kushner, Donn
Illustrated by Marc Mongeau Toronto, Lester Publishing, 1992. 32pp, cloth, $16.95, ISBN 1-895555-38-8. Distributed by Key Porter Books. CIP.


Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3 / Ages 4 to 8

Reviewed by Marion Scott

Volume 21 Number 1
1993 January


A ward-winning children's writer Donn Kushner (The Book Dragon, The Violin Maker's Gift (Macmillian, 1982)) turns to the picture-book format with this latest work. The result is a whimsical, off-beat tale and a new twist on the ever-popular dinosaur theme.

The dinosaur duster is Mr. Mopski, an ingenious museum guard entrusted with dusting the museum's two dinosaur skeletons. As he discovers, the skeletons can talk and not only that, they are bored, tired of the same view day in and day out. To provide a change of scene, Mr. Mopski switches their heads, unwittingly creating a scientific incident: scientists announce the discovery of two new dinosaur species! A tour of Europe follows, but the dinosaur skeletons soon long for home. Mr. Mopski switches the heads back, ensuring an instant loss of celebrity and a quick return to their own museum. But best of all, he has a permanent solution to dinosaur discontent wheeled display platforms that easily allow for a change of venue.

Kushner's narrative is warm and humorous, yielding new enjoyment and discoveries with successive readings. It is relatively long, but has a conversational flavour and flows well. Mr. Mopski's character succeeds as a lovable eccentric, and the dinosaurs have distinctive personalities. The museum and scientific worlds are gently spoofed, and comic details and dialogue abound.

Mongeau's illustrations complement the story beautifully, and an attractive layout cleverly frames the text. Like Kushner, Mongeau uses amusing and plentiful detail to extend both plot and character, and his cartoonish art style, off-balance perspectives, and bright colours fit the story's off-beat character. Particularly memorable are the dinosaur heads with their smug-cum-leering grins and the European museum scenes.

All in all, this is a delightful book, sure to be among the more popular and successful of the 1992 publishing season. I would recommend it for children aged four to eight, and for school and public library collections.


Marion Scott is a children's librarian with the Toronto Public Library in Toronto, Ontario
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