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Timeless of premise but not exactly fresh and, at best, inept of execution.

Justification, or maybe just deserts, for prehistoric or modern young contradictosauruses.

In essence a retread of Stegothesaurus (2018) with an altered setup and a woefully muddled ending, this prehistoric episode pits beleaguered parents against a stubbornly contrary offspring. Since he always says and does the opposite of what Mommy and Daddy Triceratops—identified, in McBeth’s simple cartoon illustrations, respectively by eyelashes and pearls and a necktie—he’s earned the titular moniker. When urged to eat, say, Triceratopposite spits out his dinner leaves; at the hot springs after refusing to get in, he recklessly splashes and dives off rocks until he’s forcibly marched home. That night, as his exhausted parents sleep, he wanders outside and meets a toothy, exaggeratedly humongous T. rex child. A monosyllabic exchange ensues: “Big!” “Little!” “Mean!” “Nice!” “Leave?” “Stay!” “Play?” “Fight!” Out rush the triceraparents, just in time to be horrified by the sight of their offspring engaged in a bit of playful roughhousing. Their shouted “Enemy!” gets the predictable rejoinder “Friend!” and a cozy closing predator-prey hug. “Maybe, in this case, the opposite was better after all.” But a different message is conveyed by the following and final line, in which a hopeful “The Beginning” is crossed out and replaced by an ominous “The End.” If this is an attempt at Jon Klassen–style ambiguity, the illustrator misses it, and readers will too. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 83% of actual size.)

Timeless of premise but not exactly fresh and, at best, inept of execution. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-13489-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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From the How To Catch… series

Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses.

An elusive new quarry leads the How To Catch… kids on a merry chase through a natural history museum.

Taking at least a step away from the “hunters versus prey” vibe of previous entries in the popular series, the racially diverse group of young visitors dashes through various museum halls in pursuit of the eponymous dino—whose quest to “spread kindness and joy ’round the world” takes the form of a mildly tumultuous museum tour. In most of Elkerton’s overly sweet, color-saturated scenes, only portions of the Loveosaurus, who is purple and covered with pink hearts, are visible behind exhibits or lumbering off the page. But the children find small enticements left behind, from craft supplies to make cards for endangered species to pictures of smiley faces, candy heart–style personal notes (“You Rock!” “Give Hugs”), and, in the hall of medieval arms and armor, a sign urging them to “Be Honest Be Kind.” The somewhat heavy-handed lesson comes through loud and clear. “There’s a message, he wants us to think,” hints Walstead to clue in more obtuse readers…and concluding scenes of smiling people young and otherwise exchanging hugs and knuckle bumps, holding doors for a wheelchair rider, and dancing through clouds of sparkles indicate that they, at least, have gotten it. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 9781728268781

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023

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Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back.

With such short arms, how can Tiny T. Rex give a sad friend a hug?

Fleck goes for cute in the simple, minimally detailed illustrations, drawing the diminutive theropod with a chubby turquoise body and little nubs for limbs under a massive, squared-off head. Impelled by the sight of stegosaurian buddy Pointy looking glum, little Tiny sets out to attempt the seemingly impossible, a comforting hug. Having made the rounds seeking advice—the dino’s pea-green dad recommends math; purple, New Age aunt offers cucumber juice (“That is disgusting”); red mom tells him that it’s OK not to be able to hug (“You are tiny, but your heart is big!”), and blue and yellow older sibs suggest practice—Tiny takes up the last as the most immediately useful notion. Unfortunately, the “tree” the little reptile tries to hug turns out to be a pterodactyl’s leg. “Now I am falling,” Tiny notes in the consistently self-referential narrative. “I should not have let go.” Fortunately, Tiny lands on Pointy’s head, and the proclamation that though Rexes’ hugs may be tiny, “I will do my very best because you are my very best friend” proves just the mood-lightening ticket. “Thank you, Tiny. That was the biggest hug ever.” Young audiences always find the “clueless grown-ups” trope a knee-slapper, the overall tone never turns preachy, and Tiny’s instinctive kindness definitely puts him at (gentle) odds with the dinky dino star of Bob Shea’s Dinosaur Vs. series.

Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7033-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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