In an odd mix of Syd Hoff’s Danny and the Dinosaur (1999) and Steven Kellogg’s The Mysterious Tadpole (1997, 2002), Liu and Lynn team up to present the tale of Gus, a dinosaur whose bus duties are not appreciated by all the townspeople.
Kids in this city don’t ever pretend to be sick and are quick to be ready for school on time—they can’t wait to ride Gus, the dinosaur bus. The apartment dwellers just slide down Gus’ neck—no need to go downstairs. But while the children all love Gus, he is not without his problems. Though the city builds him his own road, Gus still sometimes fouls the phone lines, bumps the overpasses and knocks down traffic lights. And that’s not even considering the damage his tail does. The school can’t continue to pay the bills; the principal sidelines Gus, who cries huge, bathtub-filling tears. And just like that, the children discover a new role for Gus that pleases everyone. Muted blues, reds and greens give the illustrations a retro feel that contrasts with Lynn’s scribbly style. The rough, watercolor-and-pencil artwork may just inspire readers to pick up art materials of their own, though it does make it difficult to make out details in the larger spreads, in which people often get lost in the lack of definition.
Dinosaur lovers may be enchanted, but others will want to stick to Gus’ predecessors. (Picture book. 4-8)