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An appealing story for dinophiles and library skeptics.

Mrs. Barker’s third grade class encounters a surprise during a trip to the library in Allen’s picture book.

Alyssa loathes the library, and she’s skeptical when her teacher, Mrs. Barker, asserts that there are dinosaurs there. During a class visit to the library, Mrs. Barker pulls out a book about the prehistoric creatures. Alyssa initially scoffs at this, but when the teacher opens the book, a stegosaurus leaps out and begins to eat the library’s plants. Each time Mrs. Barker turns the page, a different herbivorous dino emerges to frolic with the kids. Alyssa wants to try it herself, so she grabs the book—and accidentally unleashes a velociraptor and a Tyrannosaurus rex. The children panic, but Mrs. Barker softly closes the book and the creatures vanish. A smiling Alyssa comments, “Next time, maybe you could pick a book on koalas.” Cordova’s full-color illustrations are lively and vibrant; even the dinosaurs’ faces are expressive. The various character have a range of skin tones; Alyssa’s is portrayed as pale white; Mrs. Barker’s is depicted as brown. The text would have benefited from more information about the dinosaurs that appear (including how to pronounce their names), but the story is playful and entertaining enough that readers may be enticed to look them up for themselves—at their local library.

An appealing story for dinophiles and library skeptics.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2023

ISBN: 9798218197698

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2023

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily.

A group of young “dinosauruses” go out into the world on their own.

A fuchsia little Hugasaurus and her Pappysaur (both of whom resemble Triceratops) have never been apart before, but Hugasaurus happily heads off with lunchbox in hand and “wonder in her heart” to make new friends. The story has a first-day-of-school feeling, but Hugasaurus doesn’t end up in a formal school environment; rather, she finds herself on a playground with other little prehistoric creatures, though no teacher or adult seems to be around. At first, the new friends laugh and play. But Hugasaurus’ pals begin to squabble, and play comes to a halt. As she wonders what to do, a fuzzy platypus playmate asks some wise questions (“What…would your Pappy say to do? / What makes YOU feel better?”), and Hugasaurus decides to give everyone a hug—though she remembers to ask permission first. Slowly, good humor is restored and play begins anew with promises to be slow to anger and, in general, to help create a kinder world. Short rhyming verses occasionally use near rhyme but also include fun pairs like ripples and double-triples. Featuring cozy illustrations of brightly colored creatures, the tale sends a strong message about appropriate and inappropriate ways to resolve conflict, the final pages restating the lesson plainly in a refrain that could become a classroom motto. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-82869-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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