Benny’s Dinosaurs

10 July 2024

Benny’s Dinosaurs
by Ashley Vercammen, Illustrated by P Aplinder Kaur
Published by Home Style Teachers
Review by Shelley A. Leedahl
$20.00 ISBN 9781778152924

It’s common for children of a certain age to go through a dinosaur phase—if memory serves, my own son was about seven when he was passionate about dinosaur books, facts and toys. Prolific Saskatchewan writer and Home Style Teachers’ publisher, Ashley Vercammen, has tapped into that possibly universal dinosaur appeal with her colourfully-illustrated softcover Benny’s Dinosaurs. She’s dedicated the book to her “dinosaur-loving nephew, Benny”.

On the first page we learn that the titular “Benny” is a paleontologist about to lead a tour because “It’s a field trip day!”. A picnic will also ensue. Dressed in a brown uniform with a ranger-type hat, brown boots and a backpack, the swarthy blond paleontologist introduces us page-by-page to a variety of well and lesser-known dinosaurs in a rainbow of colours, and some of the creatures feature spots, horns and feathers. The story is illustrated by P Aplinder Kaur with playful-looking dinosaurs—Triceratops is green, Kosmoceratops is blue with fifteen horns and spikes, Tyrannosaurus Rex is dark pink—and their polka-dotted eggs. P Aplinder Kaur—also a cartoonist and digital marketer— lives in Kharar, India. Author and illustrator have teamed before.

Tour guide Benny engages his audience with questions and comments, and on each page Vercammen includes the phonetic pronunciation of the dinosaur being discussed, ie: Giganotosaurus, which “was a little bit bigger than the T-Rex,” is pronounced “Jai-ga-nuh-tuh-saw-ruhs,” and the elephant-sized Xenoposeidon is pronounced “Zen-o-puh-sai-dn”). This could be very helpful for early readers and older folks.

Young children will enjoy the bold, cartoon-like illustrations, and even at this reviewer’s great age, it’s fun to learn new things about dinosaurs. I didn’t know that the dinosaur with the longest name is Micropachycephalosaurus. “Phew, I bet he took a long time to write his name!” Benny says. Vercammen often includes light humour in her numerous children’s books. I also didn’t know that Leptoceratops “sometimes walked on two legs” and “lived in caves,” and that “there are over 700 known dinosaurs”. On the prairies, the small and light Albertosaurus “often travelled in packs to stay safe and find food,” Benny explains. And can you name a dinosaur that is the “the height of an average man”? Perhaps the dinosaur-lovers in your family or classroom—or this book!—can enlighten you.

Vercammen lives in Saskatchewan and writes books to engage “readers of varying English abilities in conversation”. She regularly markets her titles at book fairs and other in-person events. If you’d like to see her growing library of books, please consult her website at Interestingly, she’s also published a colouring book version of Benny’s Dinosaurs, and readily helps other writers publish their stories via her publishing company, Home Style Teachers.

Benny’s Dinosaurs is a treat. I wonder what this enterprising author will entertain young readers with next? From haircut and dentist appointments to the touching sibling story,Little Big Sister: Big Little Brother, Vercammen’s always got surprises up her sleeves, and she regularly rolls them up to do the hard work of book marketing.


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