The canon of books about oversized and/or inappropriate pets for kids gets yet another addition, but with a dinosaur, this one rises above the herd.
At an animal shelter, Ben can’t decide from among more than 20 “cute dogs and funny dogs and loud dogs and smelly dogs,” but the giant Tyrannosaurus rex in a nearby cage seems just right. Ben calls her “Sadie,” Sadie goes, “ROAR!” and, of course, it’s love at first pet sighting. Things get complicated when it comes to feeding, disposing of dinosaur waste, and even bathing, when Sadie drinks the contents of an entire lake. But the dinosaur comes in handy foiling a fruit-stand robbery, turning Sadie from a town pariah to a beloved fixture: “The most popular dog in town.” The text plays out the drama and redemption in simple, understated prose that gives free rein to Hawkes’ wildly expressive illustrations of Sadie. While brown-skinned, black-haired Ben and the other humans of the book are drawn with dot eyes and in small scale, Sadie is impressively detailed, with big, kind eyes, complexly shaded skin, and a seemingly endless range of emotion. She grins with satisfaction, fetches a robber with steely determination, and enjoys a tickle with a floppy tongue hanging out and feet wiggling in the air.
It may feel as though there are a few too many dinosaur picture books around, but for how well this one brings lovable Sadie to life, it deserves a place on the shelf. (Picture book. 4-7)