The premise may not be exactly new (see, for instance, Laya Steinberg’s Thesaurus Rex, illustrated by Debbie Harter, 2003),...

STEGOTHESAURUS

When a stegothesaurus meets an allothesaurus, the results can be dicey, hazardous, problematical.

Unlike his mostly monosyllabic kin, Stegothesaurus relishes words as well as shrubbery—not just “Yummy,” but “Savory, succulent, scrumptious.” So it is that when a predator attacks he can’t gallop off until he comes up with a suitable “F-f-f-frightening, formidable, fearsome.” To his amazement, his toothy adversary responds, “Hulking, hefty, humongous.” Yes, she’s not a common allosaurus but an “allothesaurus” and seemingly a kindred soul. In the very simply drawn cartoon scenes, McBeth pins bow ties on the prehistoric pedants (the allothesaurus has dainty eyelashes) and sends them off together on an orgy of synonymizing. It looks like the beginning of a beautiful, lovely, resplendent friendship…until Stegothesaurus asks how Allothesaurus learned so many words and she admits that it must have been that other stegothesaurus she ate. Uh-oh. It’s a good time, moment, instant to “Ruuuuuuuuuuuuun!” Happily, Heos lets her wordy, prolix, logorrheic dino survive to munch another day.

The premise may not be exactly new (see, for instance, Laya Steinberg’s Thesaurus Rex, illustrated by Debbie Harter, 2003), but exercises in clever wordplay are always fresh, animated, enlivening. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-13488-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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After a promising start, this autumnal offering ultimately disappoints.

A VERY BIG FALL

Change is on the horizon for a trio of leaves at home in the branches of various trees in a park.

When the air grows chilly, Birch, Oak, and Maple all experience different emotions. Birch is optimistic and expectant, Oak is cautious and reluctant, and obstinate Maple feels left out as the other leaves change colors but she doesn’t. Illustrations rendered in acrylic gouache, colored pencil, and collage depict endearingly anthropomorphized leaves, with autumnal colors that pop. As the leaves learn more about fall from a pair of knowledgeable squirrels, Maple’s slow change to red is overshadowed by her impatience to join her friends. It’s only when she pulls herself free that she learns about the downside of fall—namely, the bottoms of boots, rain gutters, and rakes. Much like the shift from the bright crisp early days of autumn to the damp cold ones later in the season, it’s here that the story changes, going from a surprisingly nuanced examination of growth to something fluffy and less interesting. A young girl with straight black hair and tan skin finds the fallen leaves and takes them home, where she draws them as anthropomorphic characters, and all discussion of the importance of change is lost. Caregivers looking for a springboard to a discussion about growing up and the uncertainty of change may find this useful, but its sputtering ending detracts from its early momentum. Maybe next year will bring a more promising crop of leaves. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

After a promising start, this autumnal offering ultimately disappoints. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-41945-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it.

HOW DO DINOSAURS SHOW GOOD MANNERS?

From the How Do Dinosaurs…? series

A guide to better behavior—at home, on the playground, in class, and in the library.

Serving as a sort of overview for the series’ 12 previous exercises in behavior modeling, this latest outing opens with a set of badly behaving dinos, identified in an endpaper key and also inconspicuously in situ. Per series formula, these are paired to leading questions like “Does she spit out her broccoli onto the floor? / Does he shout ‘I hate meat loaf!’ while slamming the door?” (Choruses of “NO!” from young audiences are welcome.) Midway through, the tone changes (“No, dinosaurs don’t”), and good examples follow to the tune of positive declarative sentences: “They wipe up the tables and vacuum the floors. / They share all the books and they never slam doors,” etc. Teague’s customary, humongous prehistoric crew, all depicted in exact detail and with wildly flashy coloration, fill both their spreads and their human-scale scenes as their human parents—no same-sex couples but some are racially mixed, and in one the man’s the cook—join a similarly diverse set of sibs and other children in either disapprobation or approving smiles. All in all, it’s a well-tested mix of oblique and prescriptive approaches to proper behavior as well as a lighthearted way to play up the use of “please,” “thank you,” and even “I’ll help when you’re hurt.”

Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-36334-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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