The premise may not be exactly new (see, for instance, Laya Steinberg’s Thesaurus Rex, illustrated by Debbie Harter, 2003),...


When a stegothesaurus meets an allothesaurus, the results can be dicey, hazardous, problematical.

Unlike his mostly monosyllabic kin, Stegothesaurus relishes words as well as shrubbery—not just “Yummy,” but “Savory, succulent, scrumptious.” So it is that when a predator attacks he can’t gallop off until he comes up with a suitable “F-f-f-frightening, formidable, fearsome.” To his amazement, his toothy adversary responds, “Hulking, hefty, humongous.” Yes, she’s not a common allosaurus but an “allothesaurus” and seemingly a kindred soul. In the very simply drawn cartoon scenes, McBeth pins bow ties on the prehistoric pedants (the allothesaurus has dainty eyelashes) and sends them off together on an orgy of synonymizing. It looks like the beginning of a beautiful, lovely, resplendent friendship…until Stegothesaurus asks how Allothesaurus learned so many words and she admits that it must have been that other stegothesaurus she ate. Uh-oh. It’s a good time, moment, instant to “Ruuuuuuuuuuuuun!” Happily, Heos lets her wordy, prolix, logorrheic dino survive to munch another day.

The premise may not be exactly new (see, for instance, Laya Steinberg’s Thesaurus Rex, illustrated by Debbie Harter, 2003), but exercises in clever wordplay are always fresh, animated, enlivening. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-13488-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular!


A “scaredy-spud” puts on his brave face.

All “mutant potatoes” love mud. Mud is good for playing games, eating, and even sleeping. But few taters have more tender feelings toward muck than Rot. À la Pete the Cat, Rot celebrates mud in song: “Mud between my toes! / Mud in my nose! / Mud is GREAT / wherever it GOES!” When Rot’s big brother, Snot, tells Rot about the Squirm that lives “deep down in the mushy muck,” his love quickly turns to fear. But he doesn’t give up! Instead, Rot imagines himself in various disguises to work up courage. There’s “Super Spud” (a superhero), “Sir Super Rot, the Brave and Bold” (a superhero-knight), and even “Sir Super Rot the Pigtato” (a, um, superhero-knight-pig-potato). The disguises are one thing, but, deep down, is Rot really brave enough to face the Squirm? Readers wooed by Rot’s charm in Rot: The Cutest in the World (2017) will laugh out loud at this well-paced encore—and it’s not just because of the butt cracks. Clanton creates a winning dynamic, balancing Rot’s earnestness, witty dialogue, and an omniscient, slightly melodramatic narrator. The cartoon illustrations were created using watercolors, colored pencils, digital collage, and—brilliantly—potato stamps. Clanton’s reliance on earth tones makes for some clever, surprising page turns when the palette is broken.

Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular! (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6764-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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