Book: Rappy the Raptor
Author: Dan Gutman
Illustrator: Tim Bowers
Age Range: 3-6
I first read Rappy the Raptor, written by Dan Gutman and illustrated by Tim Bowers, silently to myself. And I must confess that it didn't quite grab me. But I went ahead and read it aloud to my daughter (age five) at bedtime. I found that Rappy the Raptor is one of those books that shines when read with a child. It's not just that my daughter loved it (which she did, giggling throughout), but that I appreciated the punchy, rhyming text much more when reading it aloud.
Rappy the Raptor is the story of a young dinosaur (a raptor, of course) who tries to fly immediately after hatching, and lands on his head. After that, Rappy is observed to only speak in rap. His worried parents take him to the hospital, where he suffers a bevy of tests. But in the end, to everyone's relief, the doctor concludes that he was just born that way.
So we have rhyme (lots of rhyme), various examples of the types of tests kid might go through at the hospital, parental love and concern, and a tidbit or two about dinosaurs. These diverse aspects work together because Rappy is an engaging, relatable (as far as a raptor can be) protagonist.
Here's a sample:
"I'm Rappy the Raptor
and I'd like to say,
I may not talk in the usual way.
I'm rhymin' and rappin'
all of the time.
I'm talkin' when I'm walking
and I'm rhymin' when I climb."
The first paragraph of the above excerpt is repeated several times throughout the book, with variations in the second paragraph, like:
"I'm rappin' in the morning.
I'm rappin' at noon.
I'm rappin' in October
and I'm rappin' in June."
And more... It is catchy, though there were a couple of places that the text didn't seem to scan quite right for me. Some of the passages will definitely appeal to the preschool crowd, like this:
"The doctors looked me in the eye
and looked me in the ear.
And I'm not ashamed to say
they even looked me in the rear."
(giggles from five-year-old)
Tim Bowers' acrylic illustrations bring the happy-go-lucky Rappy to life. Even when he has a big bandage wrapped around his head, he remains mostly cheerful, with rounded, non-threatening teeth. His sharper-toothed parents look more worried, as any child would expect. Rappy also has a stuffed mouse, but one with raptor teeth, which renders him even more accessible to the preschool crown.
Also, though I can't promise that this will happen with every young reader, this book set my daughter onto a rhyming tear. She raced out of the room to where my husband was, calling: "Daddy! Daddy! Listen to this. I'm Rappy the Raptor and I'd like to say..." followed by a deluge of rhyming gibberish. Your mileage may vary.
All in all, Rappy the Raptor is a fun book, particularly well-suited to three to six-year-old who are learning about rhyme. Having the protagonist be a dinosaur will, I think broaden the book's appeal. This would make a great school or library storytime read (though be prepared for kids to fight over who gets to bring Rappy home). Recommended.
Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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