A most excellent adventure, with more (Hint: Can you say “Aaarrrgh!”?) to come.

T. REX TIME MACHINE

DINOS IN DE-NILE

A feckless pair of time-traveling T. Rexes make a stopover in ancient Egypt.

Between the burning-hot sands and the crocodile-infested river, it’s shaping up to be a bummer of an outing—until young Tut happens along and, mistaking one of the dinos for Sobek, god of the Nile, declares himself a fanboy. From then on it’s all parties and feasting aboard the royal yacht, with tours of landmarks ranging from the Library of Alexandria (“And this is where I check out all your comic books”) to the Sphinx (“a practical joke that got out of hand”). This goes on until, that is, the extraterrestrials who “come down every couple of weeks to work on that triangle project” catch sight of the opportunistic visitors and dash the divinity bit with some Cretaceous Era selfies. Uh oh, time to jump back into the time machine for a quick, random getaway. Next stop (as the final scene suggests) is definitely not Kansas. Chapman floats blocky figures of the voracious visitors, their diversely brown human hosts, and hairless blue ETs clad in uniforms strongly reminiscent of Star Trek’s against very simple, often monochromatic backgrounds, leaving plenty of space for gags and banter. He also slips in an easter egg, having the real Sobek and archenemy Drought duke it out in a minicomic printed inside the dust jacket.

A most excellent adventure, with more (Hint: Can you say “Aaarrrgh!”?) to come. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6155-6

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Something like a gender-switched companion to the author’s My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess (2015), but with more give...

I WANNA BE A GREAT BIG DINOSAUR

A little boy finds out what dinosaurs do…and vice versa.

The titular proclamation, delivered in oversized type by an overstimulated white boy with wide blue eyes, brings on a young theropod, also blue, who provides some not-entirely-necessary instruction: “And first, you must learn how to… / ROAR! / Next comes STOMPING!” With eating, though, the instruction begins to go two ways, as the kinetic kid introduces his carnivorous cohort to the wonders of cake and ice cream, spaghetti, and even sushi. And then on to reading, soccer, and video gaming. All of this leaves the toothy erstwhile tutor rumbling plaintively “I wanna be a LITTLE BOY!” A fine solution presents itself—“Let’s be BOTH!”—and in a final scene, the boy, with a homemade cardboard dinosaur suit strapped on, roars and stomps alongside a prehistoric pal clad in purple shorts and a boxy cap decorated to resemble a blond boy head. McKenzie scatters craft supplies underfoot in his minimally detailed illustrations as further prods to explore the pleasures of playacting.

Something like a gender-switched companion to the author’s My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess (2015), but with more give and take between the roles. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3299-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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Make reservations elsewhere.

THERE'S A DINOSAUR ON THE 13TH FLOOR

This hotel is for the birds! (And spiders, mice, pigs….)

Mr. Snore, a very tired musician whose face looks like one colossal nose, checks into the Sharemore Hotel one evening. Sadly, the rooming accommodations on the first floor are not up to Mr. Snore’s standards, as the bed is already occupied by a small mouse sleeping on the pillow. The bellhop, who bears a passing resemblance to Tintin, relocates Mr. Snore to the second floor, where he finds a covers-hogging hog. This pattern repeats with each floor until Mr. Snore reaches the 13th and the titular dinosaur. At this point, the joke turns, and it is the annoyed dino who requests a new room when it finds Mr. Snore snoozing on its pillow. The book ends with the exhausted dinosaur sleeping in the lobby with the bellhop. Overall, the execution is fair, if a tad bland. While the page turns reveal each new animal, the preceding images don’t give much in the way of hints as to what they will be, denying young readers a chance to develop their predictive skills. Some of the rooms’ doors are fancifully styled to match their inhabitants, but most are plain—a missed opportunity. The acrylic-and-ink illustrations are amusing enough, but the caricature of Mr. Snore and his schnoz is an odd choice. Both Mr. Snore and the bellhop are white.

Make reservations elsewhere. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8665-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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