Guest Author - Taisha Turner
Sharon M. Draper is the author of the Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs series. The series is about the adventures of four African-American boys. They live in Cincinnati, Ohio on the same street. The four friends are Ziggy, Rico, Jerome and Rashawn.
One summer the friends start a club, The Black Dinosaurs. They build a clubhouse in Ziggy’s backyard. Although, the boys have different personalities, they are great friends. Ziggy is a happy-go-lucky boy with strange tastes in food. While Ziggy will eat any food combination, tall, skinny Rashawn is a vegetarian. Rico lives with his mother. She keeps Rico and her life in perfect order. Jerome lives with his mother and father. He is the proud owner of Afrika, a retired police dog. Rashawn dislikes bugs and often has a can of bug spray in his possession. He lives with his two sisters and an old-fashioned grandmother.
In each book of the Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs series, the boys experience new adventures. They dig up a box of bones and solve a mystery. A camping trip is the subject of another book. The four friends go to the Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. There is plenty of action in each book to keep the young tween reader’s interest. The action is wholesome, but Ziggy’s parents are a little lenient. Yet, the parents and care givers of the other boys are not.
Sharon M. Draper’s subplots in each book are educational. As the children read, they learn about different things. In The Buried Bones Mystery and Lost in the Tunnel of Time, the Underground Railroad is the subplot. Wildlife protection is the topic of The Backyard Animal Show. Hurricane Katrina and its effects on a family is the subplot in Stars and Sparks on Stage. Sharon M. Draper, an educator, gives young readers (ages 8-12) a list of books and web sites for further study. Also, she provides ten questions or activities for each chapter. Use them to expand the reader’s knowledge and measure their reading comprehension.
Although, the tween boys are African-American, I’m sure any young boy will enjoy the adventure series. What boy has not dreamed of having a club house, great friends, solving mysteries, exploring an ancient tunnel and attending Space Camp? Tween girls will enjoy the Ziggy series, too. There are female classmates and friends who share the boys’ adventures.
The Early Chapter Books range between a hundred and hundred-fifty pages per book. Jesse Joshua Watson is the illustrator of the series. Readers familiar with the Hank Zipzer series by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver will recognize his artwork. Watson captures the exploits of the Black Dinosaurs plus those of their families and friends.
Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs Series
1. The Buried Bones Mystery
2. Lost in the Tunnel of Time
3. Shadows of Caesar’s Creek
4. The Space Mission Adventure
5. The Backyard Animal Show
6. Stars and Sparks on Stage
"I always imagined Paradise to be a....library." - Jorgelius Borges
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Note: Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs by Sharon M. Draper review books were free from the publisher. Ziggy books are available as audio books.