Imagination as a coping mechanism equals lots of superpowered fun.

SUPER SAURUS SAVES KINDERGARTEN

Though his practical sister, Emily, is ready for kindergarten, Arnold, aka Super Saurus, isn’t too sure, so he’s making plans now to escape, superhero-fashion, from all the imagined perils he will face.

These include Zorgo the Evil Genius as his teacher and Zorgo’s pet T. rex, Krok, who eats kids. But with the young, green dinosaur’s planning and packing, which includes his superhero cape and mask, he is sure to succeed in evading them both. Young’s acrylic-and–colored-pencil illustrations marvelously cut between real and imagined scenes as Super Saurus enacts his plans: using his Scuba Suit to escape the sub (car) that holds him prisoner and, when that fails, donning Sticky Shoes to climb a skyscraper (the play structure). But his dad is too quick for him, and before he knows it, he is face to face with Zorgo (Mr. Z., his new teacher, depicted as a bipedal, crested sauropod with a comically long neck). The tongue-in-cheek adventures continue throughout the day as Super Saurus, with Emily’s help, uses his skills to save the class from Krok (a tiny lizard). Since it’s obvious that kindergarten needs him, Super Saurus says he’ll be back the next day…and Mr. Z. can call him Arnold. Young cleverly makes Arnold’s imaginative adventures kid-doable: the Sticky Shoes are smeared with peanut butter, and the Rescue Rocket is a decorated box.

Imagination as a coping mechanism equals lots of superpowered fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7568-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Safe to say it’s the only dinosaur-poop–themed Christmas book readers will ever need.

THE DINOSAUR THAT POOPED CHRISTMAS!

Santa delivers a naughty boy his comeuppance in this yuck- and yuk-filled Christmas book.

Santa is appalled at the length of greedy Danny’s list—especially since the lad already has a “mountain of toys.” Santa decides, “I’ll leave him a present, / But this year his present might just be unpleasant.” After hearing a clatter, Danny rushes to see a “GIGANTIC egg” dwarfing the Christmas tree. It promptly hatches a dinosaur that sets to devouring everything, and everyone, in sight. Danny watches, horrified, as it eats his grandmother, his parents, and their whole house. The comical, rhyming text’s tone is light and is supported by the cartoon digital art, which shows a rotund, house-sized dinosaur on the former site of Danny’s home. Bereft, the boy realizes “it wasn’t the house or the presents he missed; / Without family, Christmas just didn’t exist.” Lucky for him, though perhaps not for squeamish readers, the dinosaur’s overindulgence leads to two spreads of voluminous defecation, with Danny’s family, the house’s contents, Santa and reindeer, and more all sailing “from the dinosaur’s butt” on a “massive WHOOOOOOSH” of liquid, brown poop. All characters are unscathed, and cleanup happens mercifully quickly, though readers may feel a bit ill at the sight of piles and rivulets of poop still decking the halls. Santa, Danny, and his family all present white.

Safe to say it’s the only dinosaur-poop–themed Christmas book readers will ever need. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9872-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A visually striking, compelling recollection.

FROM THE TOPS OF THE TREES

The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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

HOW DO DINOSAURS SHOW GOOD MANNERS?

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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