An informative but hair-raising tour of a rather-too-realistic dinosaur exhibit gives six new students a memorable first day at Mad Scientist Academy.
Barely have the young folk—a notably diverse group of kidlike monsters and nonhumans—met their new teacher Dr. Cosmic (green skin, orange goatee, goggles, lab coat) than the action starts. Soon they’re narrowly avoiding obliteration from a flaming model meteor, stepping hastily away from oozing lava, and fleeing a set of robotic dinos inadvertently switched to “Live” mode. Meanwhile, they’re also learning about fossils, mass extinctions (mutters Dr. Cosmic “Note to self: turn down the lava”), dinosaurs in various Mesozoic periods, pterosaurs, and the similarities between theropods and modern birds. The scholars are aided in their enquiries by pocket-sized, utterly cool “Mad Scientist handbooks,” which fold out into arrays of helpful screens, touchpads, tools, and gadgets. Having filled his sequential panels and full-page illustrations with escalating, destructive antics done up in a tidy style that makes them all the more hilarious, McElligott closes with a thumbnail gallery of the exhibit’s prehistoric residents and a link to an associated website. Aside from being, you know, mad, Dr. Cosmic is plainly a colleague of Ms. Frizzle, and the mix of pithy banter, tumultuous field-trip mishaps, and science fact is as familiar as it is winning. Fans of the Frizz will be dino-delighted.
Mad fun. (Graphic science fantasy. 7-9)