DINOSAURS AFTER DARK

Spotting a passing dinosaur from his bedroom window one night, young Bobby follows it to a square surrounded by tall, dark office buildings where a host of dinos has gathered for a wild rumpus. Jobling, creative director of PBS’s “Bob the Builder,” creates big, blocky cartoons featuring simplified but recognizable dinosaurs, each a single, bright color, sporting with a pajama-clad lad until he drifts off and is tenderly borne back to bed. Emmett (Bringing Down the Moon, 2001, etc.) himself drifts between prose and verse in telling the tale, which makes for abrupt, awkward changes in rhythm. He cites Where the Wild Things Are as his inspiration, but when it comes to emotional or psychological depth, he misses the boat there too. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-307-41179-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Golden Books/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2002

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

TRICERATOPPOSITE

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. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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Sometimes peace and quiet just isn’t in the cards…and that isn’t always a bad thing.

SHORTY & CLEM BLAST OFF!

From the Shorty & Clem series

The odd couple introduced in Shorty & Clem (2017) wrangle over a rocket kit.

The broad contrast in personalities between dinosaur Shorty and avian buddy Clem fuels this follow-up. Loud, extroverted, and unwilling to take “no” for an answer, Shorty really, really wants to help the quieter, more serious, and increasingly annoyed Clem assemble the model: “Come on, Clem. Please! Please! Please! Please!” Clem’s shouted “I do not need help!” finally drives the demanding dino away—but not for long, as a “CRASH!” leaves Clem, who is too short to set the rocket’s nose cone in place, sitting tearfully amid wreckage. “I need help.” What Clem gets is a comforting hug, then an assist from Shorty’s “handy bendy tail” to set the rocket to rights. Slack tells the tale in dialogue (with a few added sound effects), and he floats his chunky figures against a pale blue, blank background, which has the effect of focusing attention on their expressively drawn faces. With sophisticated pacing that practically guarantees chuckles, this should find fans with both older listeners and emergent readers alike.

Sometimes peace and quiet just isn’t in the cards…and that isn’t always a bad thing. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-242159-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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