Along with the pleasure of pronouncing those multisyllabic dino names, young audiences may find food for thought in the...

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TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS!

Primary socialization and cooperation in action—with dinosaurs, and no grown-ups in sight.

Whether at the art table, doing work at the board or using blocks—“Stegosaurus stacks. / Triceratops erects. / Gallimimus builds it up”—the result is the same: “TYRANNOSAURUS… // WRECKS!” But not only does a room full of angry faces cause a change of heart in the hyperactive theropod, when his efforts to repair the damage founder on his own clumsiness, his classmates pitch in. They don’t do the cleanup themselves, but they work to enable his success. That doesn’t spell an end to disasters, as bulky Apatosaurus doesn’t see contrite T. Rex carefully balancing a tray of juice cups and snacks…but at least this time it’s not his fault. OHora adds digital color to simply drawn classroom scenes in ways that produce a flat, screen-printed look, depicting the dinos in human clothing but with recognizable attributes (they’re also identified on the endpapers). Just for fun he also slips in a view of Styracosaurus practicing his “C”s by repeatedly writing “Climate Change” and a few other visual gags.

Along with the pleasure of pronouncing those multisyllabic dino names, young audiences may find food for thought in the behavioral dynamics on display. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1035-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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Well-trodden dino turf, but the grass is still fairly green.

IF YOU HAPPEN TO HAVE A DINOSAUR

A tongue-in-cheek look at some of the many ways that idle household dinosaurs can be put to work.

Jack casts a host of cartoon dinosaurs—most of them humongous, nearly all smiling and candy bright of hue—in roles as can openers, potato mashers, yard sweepers, umbrellas on rainy days, snowplows, garbage collectors, and like helpers or labor savers. Even babysitters, though, as Bailey aptly notes, “not all dinosaurs are suited to this work.” Still, “[t]he possibilities are amazing!” And even if there aren’t any handy dinos around, she concludes, any live-in octopus, sasquatch, kangaroo or other creature can be likewise exploited. A bespectacled, woolly-haired boy who looks rather a lot like Weird Al Yankovic serves as dino-wrangler in chief, heading up a multiethnic cast of kids who enjoy the dinosaurs’ services. As with all books of this ilk, the humor depends on subtextual visual irony. A group of kids happily flying pterosaur kites sets up a gag featuring a little boy holding a limp string tied to the tail of a grumpy-looking stegosaurus. Changes on this premise have been run over and over since Bernard Most’s If the Dinosaurs Came Back (1978), and though this iteration doesn’t have any fresh twists to offer, at least it’s bright and breezy enough to ward off staleness.

Well-trodden dino turf, but the grass is still fairly green. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-77049-568-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A cozy bit of new-family making—perhaps better not taken too literally.

REX

Single parenting, T. Rex style.

Huge, roaring, toothy T. Rex beds down for the night in a handy empty cave—and wakes with a tiny hatchling theropod staring up at him adoringly: “Dada!” Bellowing, “You’re no Rex!” the discomfited dino lumbers off for a daily round of smashing rocks, uprooting trees, and scaring “every saurus” he sees. But Little Rex trots along and soon is pounding boulders and tearing out (small) trees of his own in imitation. Bonding ensues…and survives big Rex’s frank admission that he’s not Little Rex’s real father. “I hope I’m as terrifying as you when I grow up, Dad.” “I’ll make sure of it,” replies big Rex. “That’s what dads are for!” James never troubles to explain how Little Rex, or more precisely his egg, came to be left in the cave; evidently family arrangements “once upon about 65 million years ago” were fairly casual. Anyway, in splashy, melodramatic cartoon scenes featuring a variety of wide-eyed dinosaurs against a backdrop of erupting volcanoes, James exaggerates the size differential between the two rexes to comical effect, endows Little Rex with a cute overbite, and closes with shared smiles.

A cozy bit of new-family making—perhaps better not taken too literally. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7294-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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