Sturdy split pages allow readers to create their own inventive combinations from among a handful of prehistoric critters. Hard on the heels of Flip-O-Saurus (2010) drops this companion gallery, printed on durable boards and offering opportunities to mix and match body thirds of eight prehistoric mammals, plus a fish and a bird, to create such portmanteau creatures as a “Gas-Lo-Therium,” or a “Mega-Tor-Don.” The “Mam-Nyc-Nia” places the head of a mammoth next to the wings and torso of an Icaronycteris (prehistoric bat) and the hind legs of a Macrauchenia (a llamalike creature with a short trunk), to amusing effect. Drehsen adds first-person captions on the versos, which will also mix and match to produce chuckles: “Do you like my nose? It’s actually a short trunk…” “I may remind you of an ostrich, because my wings aren’t built for flying…” “My tail looks like a dolphin’s.” With but ten layers to flip, young paleontologists will run through most of the permutations in just a few minutes, but Ball’s precisely detailed ink-and-watercolor portraits of each animal formally posed against plain cream colored backdrops may provide a slightly more enduring draw. A silhouette key on the front pastedown includes a pronunciation guide and indicates scale. Overall, a pleasing complement to more substantive treatments. (Novelty nonfiction. 6-8)
In lunchbox-style packaging, a booklet of dino facts and a prehistoric panorama are presented on both a folded poster and a jigsaw puzzle.
Strother devotes 10 of her 32 pages to ornithischian, or bird-hipped, dinosaurs (correctly noting that they are not the ancestors of modern birds). She also manages to survey the Mesozoic Era in general, introduce a few theropods, describe fossilization, and present up-to-date information about dinosaur colors and extinction theories. All of this is crammed onto thematic spreads with small paintings and photos of fossils or generic images of fleshed-out reconstructions in minimally detailed settings. Francis contributes a collective portrait of dinosaurs of diverse size and period posing together over a labeled timeline. This can be hung up and, as a 130-piece jigsaw, assembled. Also available from the same author and illustrator, and likewise in a round-corned box with a carrying handle and snap close, is Oceans, a densely populated dive into the deep.
Gift items for confirmed young enthusiasts, with a substantial but not wearisome informational load.
(Informational novelty. 6-8)
Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.
Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture.
A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.
(Picture book. 4-8)
Yet another child learns that dinosaurs make exciting, if chancy, pets.
On the prowl for a pet, Danny walks past shop windows displaying puppies and kittens to enter the titular storefront…where “Mr. Ree, purveyor of prehistoric pets,” offers him any dino he might desire. Unfortunately his first pick, Diplodocus longus, eats half a ton of veggies per day; his second, Tyrannosaurus rex (“Ooh, brave choice”), is too, well, “drooly”; and later ones—unnamed but brightly patterned, smiling, and recognizably depicted in Brown’s cartoon scenes—prove likewise impractical or unsatisfactory. (Confirmed dinophiles might be able to tag the unidentified beasts, but there is no key for paleontological newbies.) Condon works the well-worn premise to a happy resolution, as the pet Danny finally brings home in a box turns out to be not an ordinary tortoise, as his mother thinks at first sight, but a spiky-tailed, tortoiselike Meiolania from the Middle Miocene, small enough to pick up…at first, anyway. Aside from a background figure in one scene, the human cast is uniformly white. José Carlos Andrés and Ana Sanfelippo’s Adopting a Dinosaur (2019), Jason Cockcroft’s How To Take Care of Your Dinosaur (2019), and Diego Vaisberg’s Dino (2018) are but three recent examples of the superior treatments available.
A bland but amiable iteration.
(Picture book. 6-8)