The Spooky Scavenger Hunt (Dinosaur Train). Grosset & Dunlap /Penguin Young Readers (August 2011); ISBN 978044845604; 32 pages
(Review copy provided by The Jim Henson Company)
With a full moon shining above, only the brave dinos climb aboard the night train. Buddy, Mr. Pteranodon and Tiny ready themselves for a spooky scavenger hunt adventure lead by the conductor, a Troodon dinosaur. The dinosaurs quickly learn that the conductor has night vision and his eyes "glow," a rather spooky sight. The group of dinosaurs uses their sense of smell, hearing, and vision to find various things during their nighttime scavenger hunt. The dark evening walk isn't too spooky until something unexpected (but not really all that scary) pops out along the way.
I tend to bypass commercialized books because they often fail to measure up to my standards. While the writing in this one isn't stellar, I must admit The Spooky Scavenger Hunt does provide a nice springboard for talking about many scientific topics such as the senses and eyeshine or tapetum lucidum (the reason some animal's eyes glow/reflect light at night). According to scientists, Troodons most likely had nocturnal vision. Also, for those looking for spooky but not scary books without a Halloween slant, this one fits the bill. It doesn't specifically mention Halloween, candy, costumes or anything else associated with the holiday. Too bad the publishers didn't print actual glow-in-the dark eyes on the pages. While my kids generally liked the story, I think it would have been an even bigger spooky hit with glow-in-the dark Troodon eyes!
While I'm not positive, I believe this story is based on an older Dinosaur Train episode called "Night Train." See a snippet below:
Next week, the Jim Henson Company is gearing up for Halloween with two new 2011 PBS kids Halloween episodes:
Sid the Science Kid Halloween Episode - "Spooky Science" - premieres 10/17 on PBS Kids (check local listings, repeats the following days: 10/25, 10/28, 10/30, 10/31)
My son was a dinosaur for Halloween last year so I'm sure he'd love to dress up like one of the Dinosaur Train characters. If you're still looking for costume ideas this year, take a look at PBS Kids for directions on how to make your own Dinosaur Train Buddy costume or Sid the Science Kid Halloween Costume. Dinosaur Train themed costumes are also available for purchase from California Costume.
Since the book didn't have actual "glowing" nocturnal eyes we decided to make some of our own! The kids used some glow-in-the dark fabric paint and painted sets of eyes onto dark blue paper. After the eyes dried, we went into a dark room with the pictures. Several pairs of spooky eyes looked right at us! :)
For the record, glow-in-the-dark paint is awesome, and my kids adore using it in their various craft projects. If you don't own any, I highly recommend purchasing some, especially with Halloween approaching. (We used Tulip 3D Glow-in-the-dark Natural Fashion Paint for this project.)
Add a spooky, but not too scary read to your children's book collection! The Jim Henson Company has kindly offered to give away a copy of The Spooky Scavenger Hunt Dinosaur Train book.
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