DINOSAURS!

Gibbons replaces her 1987 take on the topic (Dinosaurs—without the exclamation point) with a more populous and—usually—livelier primer. Along with devoting a page or spread to each of seven main groups, she shows paleontologists in action, portrays the great extinction of 65 million years ago and closes with a page of random dino-facts. There is some meat-eating going on in one spread, but most of the dinosaurs pose in stately, nondisturbing dignity, displaying faint skin patterning or none, against simplified landscapes. Sometimes clarity is sacrificed to simplicity: In one potential point of confusion, Theropods, the ancestors of birds, are billed as “nonbird,” despite a later page about the “birdlike” Archaeopteryx. This very basic overview comes with a few dozen dino-names (with pronunciation guides) to practice, and leads naturally into the author’s more detailed Dinosaur Discoveries (2005). (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 15, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2143-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2008

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Fans of macabre, tongue-in-cheek humor (and twist endings!) will enjoy time spent with Penelope.

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WE DON'T EAT OUR CLASSMATES

When a young T. Rex named Penelope starts school, she learns some lessons about her classmates; most importantly, they are not for eating.

Higgins’ starts out as most back-to-school books do: A nervous youngster equipped with an awesome new backpack and hearty lunch worries about her classmates. But then the orange-and-white dino, who’s clad in pink overalls, is taken aback to find that all her classmates are children—the human kind. And “children are delicious,” so she eats them. Mrs. Noodleman forces her to spit them out and reiterates the titular rule. Penelope’s classmates, covered in disgusting spit, express their displeasure with hugely expressive faces and postures. Penelope’s efforts to make friends are unimpressive to the kids (and will have readers in stitches!). A sad and lonely dino trudges home to some advice from her parents, but the temptation the next day is just too great. “Mrs. Noodleman, Penelope ate William Omoto again!” The whole class is afraid of her, except Walter, the goldfish. But when she extends the hand of friendship to him, he gives her a taste of her own medicine, leading to a change of heart and some new friends. Higgins’ illustrations combine scanned textures, graphite, ink, and Photoshop elements, and they feature a wonderfully diverse class that includes a girl in hijab, a tyke in glasses, and a boy wearing a kippah amid classmates of varying skin and hair colors and body types.

Fans of macabre, tongue-in-cheek humor (and twist endings!) will enjoy time spent with Penelope. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-00355-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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