In a market teeming with terrible reptiles, this book earns itself a big di-NO.

READ REVIEW

WE ARE THE DINOSAURS

Here be dinosaurs.

When adapting a song to a picture-book format, the source material should have the same natural rise and fall of action as a literary text. Some songs take to their newfound formats like a fish to water, while others, like Berkner’s here, are left gasping for air. Working a plot onto the plotless lyrics of the titular song, pictures and added dialogue send five little dinosaurs on a hike up a mountain. The cartoony crew stomps, stops to eat, climbs, and goes to sleep in a mountaintop cave before running heck-for-leather back down to avoid a volcanic demise. Plenty of dialogue assists the text, though the lyrics of the song provide the story’s backbone. Readers already familiar with the music will enjoy the lively adaptation, but for new fans, the lure of dinosaurs may not be enough to sustain their interest. Much of the heavy lifting is performed by Clanton, whose wide-eyed, perky dinosaurs attempt to hang a plot on Berkner’s upbeat, repetitive lyrics, with limited success. Though there is initial lip service paid to the repeated assertion that the dinosaurs “make the earth flat,” depiction of the dinosaurs on the lumpy incline of the mountain will puzzle readers. Oddly, for a book so reliant on familiarity with Berkner’s song, no CD or online link to the music is included (though “We Are the Dinosaurs” sheet music is printed on the book’s back cover, where it will likely be inaccessible to library users).

In a market teeming with terrible reptiles, this book earns itself a big di-NO. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6463-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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