Shakespeare’s classic tragedy gets a comic retelling and a happy ending.
“Once upon a time, one hundred and fifty million years ago….” Romeosaurus’ family (a mix of dino species) are herbivores, while Juliet Rex’s (T. Rexes and a pterodactyl nurse) delight in eating meat. The two meet at a masked ball, quickly becoming friends, though the herbivores must make a quick escape after Romeo helps Auntie Gladys off the buffet table, where she’s been trussed, with an apple in her mouth, and Mercutio-tops accidentally pokes Tybalt Rex with his horns. The balcony scene leads to a cementing of Romeo and Juliet’s friendship, and the two leave notes for their loved ones and run off to the tar pits. Knowing what danger that poses, Nurse-a-Dactyl and Mercutio-tops fly to the rescue (“We should have let them be friends!”), and the foursome agree that carnivores and herbivores can be friends (not meals). But this happily-ever-after is marred by a looming final-page meteorite. Indeed, O’Hara sprinkles humorous references throughout that will fly over kids’ heads, though parents will be in stitches: “Juliet Rex was waving her tiny arms in the air like she just didn’t care….” Joyner’s digital illustrations are a hoot. The dinos are dressed in Elizabethan finery (dino color and clothing color separating carnivores and herbivores, in addition to the former’s pointy teeth), and their expressions are sure to evince giggles, most being over-the-top.
Not too shabby for a first taste of the Bard. (Picture book. 4-8)