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NO HONKING ALLOWED

Put pedal to the metal and read this as fast as wheels will allow.

At last, an answer to that long-standing question: would you trust a T. rex in the driver’s seat?

Bespectacled, bescarved Rex is all too happy to show his staid and steady pal Stego all the noises his sporty roadster makes. His favorite? The honk. Alas, honking is explicitly forbidden according to copious signage and Stego’s unwavering commitment to the rules. Yet when a fire truck must make way, Rex at last lets loose with a torrent of emergency-excused honks. Lesson learned? Not even slightly. It’s fabulous to see a character with glasses depicted as the one with the impulse-control issues in a book. Rex’s charm and Stego’s worrywart concerns battle it out for dominion in the hearts of child readers. The aptly named Ferrari’s watercolors neatly capture both Rex’s joie de vivre and the madcap energy of the city. (Readers may wonder at the ease with which Stego’s plates are accommodated when he sits down, however.) The rhyming text’s scansion also works consistently, and the simple wordplay allows this to double as both a read-aloud and a text for emerging readers. A sudden right-hand turn into metafictive territory prevents the book from nailing the landing, but it’s hard to resist the sheer exuberant id of the hero and his superego stand-in best friend.

Put pedal to the metal and read this as fast as wheels will allow. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3672-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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DIGGERSAURS

Count on construction die-hards falling in love, but discerning readers would be wise to look elsewhere for their...

Less ambitious than Chris Gall’s widely known Dinotrux (2009) and sequels, this British import systematically relegates each dinosaur/construction-equipment hybrid to its most logical job.

The title figures are introduced as bigger than both diggers and dinosaurs, and rhyming text and two construction-helmeted kids show just what these creatures are capable of. Each diggersaur has a specific job to do and a distinct sound effect. The dozersaurus moves rocks with a “SCRAAAAPE!!!” while the rollersaurus flattens lumps with a cheery “TOOT TOOT!!” Each diggersaur is numbered, with 12 in all, allowing this to be a counting book on the sly. As the diggersaurs (not all of which dig) perform jobs that regular construction equipment can do, albeit on a larger scale, there is no particular reason why any of them should have dinosaurlike looks other than just ’cause. Peppy computer art tries valiantly to attract attention away from the singularly unoriginal text. “Diggersaurs dig with bites so BIG, / each SCOOP creates a crater. // They’re TOUGH and STRONG / with necks so long— / they’re super EXCAVATORS!” Far more interesting are the two human characters, a white girl and a black boy, that flit about the pictures offering commentary and action. Much of the fun of the book can be found in trying to spot them on every two-page spread.

Count on construction die-hards falling in love, but discerning readers would be wise to look elsewhere for their dino/construction kicks. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-4779-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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