I MET A DINOSAUR

A young girl's visit to the natural-history museum is intended to be an invitation to imagining dinosaurs everywhere— in the park, at the gas station, behind the shed, on the lake. What begins with intrigue and the promise of adventure rapidly bogs down in humdrum poetry panels paired with mismatched illustrations. The musings in the girl's mind do not always translate visually into specific types of dinosaurs. For example, it's hard to see how two electric towers become a triceratops or how a moose could be mistaken for a brontosaurus (now known as Apatosaurus). The illustrations stand alone, enticing and atmospheric on their own, but too often fail to bring readers into a visual understanding of the metamorphosis mentioned in the abstract text. Exceptions to this are the scales of a stegosaurus that form the sign for the gas station and the lumbering shape of a diplodocus that mimics treetops and rooftops in the fog. A good-looking design includes a clean layout and thoughtful composition, but the book in general does not sustain the creativity evidenced in its first and final panels. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-201644-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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DANCING DINOS GO TO SCHOOL

Half a dozen lime-green dinosaurs are the stars of this delightful easy reader that offers most of the best qualities of the genre: rhyming text, a jolly rhythm, funny characters and lots of action. The well-written, brief text follows the dancing dinosaurs in a school-library setting as they dance right out of the pages of an open book and into mischief around the school and playground. The librarian, an African-American woman with glasses, and one male student follow the dinosaurs, but the action focuses firmly on the out-of-control dinosaurs. Though this is intended for new readers who are just starting to sound out words, both the storyline and appealing art are strong enough to work as a read-aloud for younger children as well. These dancing dinos have legs, and they ought to pop back out of their book for more rollicking adventures for new readers. (Easy reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 11, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83241-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2006

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The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

INFINITE COUNTRY

A 15-year-old girl in Colombia, doing time in a remote detention center, orchestrates a jail break and tries to get home.

"People say drugs and alcohol are the greatest and most persuasive narcotics—the elements most likely to ruin a life. They're wrong. It's love." As the U.S. recovers from the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, from the misery of separations on the border, from both the idea and the reality of a wall around the United States, Engel's vital story of a divided Colombian family is a book we need to read. Weaving Andean myth and natural symbolism into her narrative—condors signify mating for life, jaguars revenge; the embattled Colombians are "a singed species of birds without feathers who can still fly"; children born in one country and raised in another are "repotted flowers, creatures forced to live in the wrong habitat"—she follows Talia, the youngest child, on a complex journey. Having committed a violent crime not long before she was scheduled to leave her father in Bogotá to join her mother and siblings in New Jersey, she winds up in a horrible Catholic juvie from which she must escape in order to make her plane. Hence the book's wonderful first sentence: "It was her idea to tie up the nun." Talia's cross-country journey is interwoven with the story of her parents' early romance, their migration to the United States, her father's deportation, her grandmother's death, the struggle to reunite. In the latter third of the book, surprising narrative shifts are made to include the voices of Talia's siblings, raised in the U.S. This provides interesting new perspectives, but it is a little awkward to break the fourth wall so late in the book. Attention, TV and movie people: This story is made for the screen.

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982159-46-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Well-trodden dino turf, but the grass is still fairly green.

IF YOU HAPPEN TO HAVE A DINOSAUR

A tongue-in-cheek look at some of the many ways that idle household dinosaurs can be put to work.

Jack casts a host of cartoon dinosaurs—most of them humongous, nearly all smiling and candy bright of hue—in roles as can openers, potato mashers, yard sweepers, umbrellas on rainy days, snowplows, garbage collectors, and like helpers or labor savers. Even babysitters, though, as Bailey aptly notes, “not all dinosaurs are suited to this work.” Still, “[t]he possibilities are amazing!” And even if there aren’t any handy dinos around, she concludes, any live-in octopus, sasquatch, kangaroo or other creature can be likewise exploited. A bespectacled, woolly-haired boy who looks rather a lot like Weird Al Yankovic serves as dino-wrangler in chief, heading up a multiethnic cast of kids who enjoy the dinosaurs’ services. As with all books of this ilk, the humor depends on subtextual visual irony. A group of kids happily flying pterosaur kites sets up a gag featuring a little boy holding a limp string tied to the tail of a grumpy-looking stegosaurus. Changes on this premise have been run over and over since Bernard Most’s If the Dinosaurs Came Back (1978), and though this iteration doesn’t have any fresh twists to offer, at least it’s bright and breezy enough to ward off staleness.

Well-trodden dino turf, but the grass is still fairly green. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-77049-568-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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