Inane, both psychologically and plotwise.


Gregory wakes up in bed transformed…not into a giant cockroach, but a T. Rex.

Many’s deliberate riff on the premise of Kafka’s classic tale is the high point of this incoherent hash. For no reason beyond a physical change that only he can apparently see, the moment he rises on the morning he’s scheduled to present a school report on the extinction of the dinosaurs by meteorite, Gregory becomes a destructive monster. He rips his breakfast-cereal box apart with a roar, bellows when he realizes he’s left his diorama at home, and savagely destroys his classmates’ elaborate dino-projects. For this last act, rather than being punished or even scolded, he’s briefly sent to the office, then actually applauded once teacher and students understand that he was supposedly imitating a T. Rex. As if! In fact, only his harried single mom reacts realistically to his acting out. Jaskiel brings like murkiness to the illustrations, which feature a flailing white lad whose anxiety at a teacher’s question looks more like severe nausea and who in dino form looks like Barney’s anthropomorphic green cousin. At a convenient point Gregory changes back to a boy and, after deciding that night that T. Rexes aren’t all that cool, dreams of becoming a (presumably less aggressive) triceratops. In the pictures the adults are all white, but the students are a diverse group.

Inane, both psychologically and plotwise. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4556-2304-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it.


From the How Do Dinosaurs…? series

A guide to better behavior—at home, on the playground, in class, and in the library.

Serving as a sort of overview for the series’ 12 previous exercises in behavior modeling, this latest outing opens with a set of badly behaving dinos, identified in an endpaper key and also inconspicuously in situ. Per series formula, these are paired to leading questions like “Does she spit out her broccoli onto the floor? / Does he shout ‘I hate meat loaf!’ while slamming the door?” (Choruses of “NO!” from young audiences are welcome.) Midway through, the tone changes (“No, dinosaurs don’t”), and good examples follow to the tune of positive declarative sentences: “They wipe up the tables and vacuum the floors. / They share all the books and they never slam doors,” etc. Teague’s customary, humongous prehistoric crew, all depicted in exact detail and with wildly flashy coloration, fill both their spreads and their human-scale scenes as their human parents—no same-sex couples but some are racially mixed, and in one the man’s the cook—join a similarly diverse set of sibs and other children in either disapprobation or approving smiles. All in all, it’s a well-tested mix of oblique and prescriptive approaches to proper behavior as well as a lighthearted way to play up the use of “please,” “thank you,” and even “I’ll help when you’re hurt.”

Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-36334-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Gift items for confirmed young enthusiasts, with a substantial but not wearisome informational load.


From the Smithsonian Young Explorers series

In lunchbox-style packaging, a booklet of dino facts and a prehistoric panorama are presented on both a folded poster and a jigsaw puzzle.

Strother devotes 10 of her 32 pages to ornithischian, or bird-hipped, dinosaurs (correctly noting that they are not the ancestors of modern birds). She also manages to survey the Mesozoic Era in general, introduce a few theropods, describe fossilization, and present up-to-date information about dinosaur colors and extinction theories. All of this is crammed onto thematic spreads with small paintings and photos of fossils or generic images of fleshed-out reconstructions in minimally detailed settings. Francis contributes a collective portrait of dinosaurs of diverse size and period posing together over a labeled timeline. This can be hung up and, as a 130-piece jigsaw, assembled. Also available from the same author and illustrator, and likewise in a round-corned box with a carrying handle and snap close, is Oceans, a densely populated dive into the deep.

Gift items for confirmed young enthusiasts, with a substantial but not wearisome informational load. (Informational novelty. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62686-145-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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