Review by Mikah Martiarena
What if Dodo Birds never went extinct? The picturebook Hello, Mr. Dodo! tells a story of an encounter between a girl named Martha and a Dodo Bird. Martha is a young girl who has taken a special interest in all types of birds. When she comes across a bird she doesn’t know in the middle of the woods, Martha is intrigued. She conducts research and finds it is the Dodo, a bird that has been extinct since 1662. This fact fascinates Martha, as she ventures back into the forest to find the bird. Eventually, they become friends when Martha comes every day to play with Mr. Dodo and feed him donuts. The picturebook is a lighthearted story that entertains its target audience of early elementary children with its vivid colors, multiple scenes per page, and its themes of discovery, adventure, and relationship with an extinct bird. This latter aspect—while the highlight of the book— might confuse some children into thinking that the Dodo is not extinct yet. Although older readers may think “what if”, what if you did find a species thought to be extinct? This really brings out the imagination of a child.
The illustrations are central to the story as the text does not stand on its own. Most illustrations are double-page spreads single-page spreads or multiple mini scenes on one page, with text found anywhere on the page. The words add information as well, but it is sometimes only dialogue that doesn’t push the story forward like the visual narrative does. The images provide action and location, giving the reader more context to understand where the story is moving. The illustrations add a level of emotion to the story as well, portraying the feelings of the characters in a way that would be hard for the verbal narrative to depict. The book mainly uses bright yellows, oranges, blues, and greens. The book uses shadowing and while it is used sparingly when it is used it is in a way that enhances the overall reading experience. The images also enhance the playfulness and joy to the story, with their bright warm colors and artistic style that invites the reader in.
Hello, Mr. Dodo!
By Nicholas John Frith
Alison Green Books, 2016
Mikah is a first-year student at the University of Minnesota with an interest in artistic design and psychology.