Look who's been hiding all along...
Dodos Are NOT Extinct! by Paddy Donnelly, Yeehoo Press, February 2022
Dodos are extinct, right? Wrong! Prepare to have your mind blown as Paddy Donnelly reveals they've actually been hiding all this time. And it's not just the dodos! Find out what other creatures have been right under your nose and discover how they blend in.
My family and I are absolutely mad about this book. The almost-five-year-old loves funny and playful stories. The seven-year-old enjoys anything that elicits longer discussions. This is perfect for them both and I really enjoy their reactions as we read it.
When this first arrived, my girls were immediately intrigued. I told them that it was written and illustrated by the same man who illustrated Here Be Dragons by Susannah Lloyd and who 'made' The Vanishing Lake. The awestruck four-year-old demanded to know, 'Who is this man?' 'This man' is award-winning Irish-born and Belgium-based author and illustrator Paddy Donnelly. You can find all the prizes Paddy has been awarded, as well as those for which he has been nominated and short-listed here. My kids don't care about awards but they do know a winning story when they see it. There are so many reasons to love Dodos Are NOT Extinct! but here are our top five:
It's so clever The premise - that dodos and other extinct creatures are living among us disguised as other animals - is incredibly interesting and original.
It's bursting with warmth and humour
Paddy has thought of hilarious ways for animals to go undercover. It's clear he had lots of fun writing and illustrating this and also that he's enormously fond of his subjects.
It's diverse and inclusive There are human characters of every ethnicity and children in wheelchairs are represented too.
There's so much to learn As well as dodos, we're introduced to moas, great auks, quaggas and passenger pigeons as well as a variety of prehistoric beasts. I'm ashamed to say that I wasn't familiar with the Irish elk, which was the largest deer that ever lived. There are two pages of facts at the back of the book. We love when picture books include facts and The Vanishing Lake (also by Paddy and also terrific) takes a similar approach.
This includes a timeline at the back of the book giving more information on each creature as well as the date they became extinct. It is extremely sad to see how so many creatures had died out because of humans and also, how recently this happened. But it's important to highlight this as it demonstrates how our actions have consequences and emphasises the importance of caring for the environment. Paddy even lists ways that children can help preserve endangered species.
The illustrations are amazing We're huge fans of Paddy Donnelly's animated style. He makes all the animals look adorable and amusing, no matter how fierce they might be. I love the expressions of the animals and their posture too. They remind me a little of the Gary Larson comics I loved when I was younger. There are lots of hilarious details that will appeal to little readers. The dreadful ostrich costume always gets a great laugh here as does the dodo in a tux. The dino cranes, taxi drivers, surgeons, slides and kites are fantastic. We love seeing the Irish elk eyeing up a sandwich as the ice cream of a little girl distracted by a dinosaur goes splat and a dodo in a swimming ring perches on the elk's antlers! It's brilliant how the grown-ups are oblivious to all the beasts in their midst while the children can spot them. This type of contrast always works well in picture books and is a narrative technique that Paddy has mastered.
Dodos are NOT Extinct! is an excellent book for entertaining little readers as well as impressing the importance of caring for the environment. There are endless laugh-out-loud moments as well as lots to learn about ancient and not-so-ancient animals. This story delivers a powerful message about preserving endangered species and the effects of climate change in an incredibly fun and engaging way. A seriously silly but wonderfully worthwhile bookshelf essential.
Thanks so much to author Paddy Donnelly for kindly sharing this fabulous book with us - all opinions expressed are our own. Read our review of The Vanishing Lake by Paddy Donnelly Read our review of Here Be Dragons by Susannah Lloyd and Paddy Donnelly