The thrill-seeking dinosaurs from Dinosailors and All Aboard the Dinotrain take to the skies. Agile, fun-to-read couplets describe their performance at an air show: “They dangle from their wide trapeze/ And dinodance on wings with ease./ The crowd below screams out for more./ They love to watch them dinosoar!”
Fine’s gouache and watercolor paintings have the luminance of classic landscape paintings; paired with the dinosaurs (including a pink triceratops and a stegosaurus that resembles a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle), the effect is playfully surreal. What’s left for dinosaurs after skydiving? A final spread suggests that more adventures are yet to come. Ages 4–8. Publisher's Weekly
Lund's (Dinosailors ) rhyming story, about a team of ghoulish monsters who ride bulldozers and cranes, has just about everything a child could hope for, from fantastical characters to vehicles, from muck and mud to screams and shouts to “monsteroni and cheese.”
The plot is uncomplicated—a crew of monsters builds a “Custom Prehaunted” house and then cleans up—and relayed with plenty of brio: “Foreman Gorbert stomps over. He's huge and he's hairy./ He grunts out the orders and adds, “Make it scary!” Neubecker's (Wow! School! ) bright, digitally colored full-bleed pictures of the workmonsters—Dirty Dugg, Stinky Stubb, Gorbert and Melvina—are reminiscent of Maurice Sendak's Wild Things, but rendered in an electric palette.
A monster mama serves lunch, reads a story and oversees naptime, then withdraws: this quartet, apparently, doesn't view tidying up as fiendish (“Without too much whining, they each do their share”). The fun extends to the endpapers, which feature monsters in construction machines. Ages 3–7.
—Publishers Weekly starred review
“A jumbo crew sets sail for fun (“They’re hale and hearty—dinotough!/ They talk of salty sailing stuff”) in this exuberant picture book, and while all goes well at first (“Heave ho! Heave ho! This life’s for me,/ Dinosailing on the sea!”), when foul weather hits, “dinofeet miss solid ground.” Fine’s (Piggy Pie!) swirling perspectives chronicle the swells from outside and inside the vessel, making justifiable the bout of seasickness that follows…
The sailors sell their boat and swear to the life of landlubbers (“They’d rather dinostroll than float”). Wanderlust is rekindled, however, after a brief spell ashore, and the book leaves the door open for a sequel as the jolly bunch, now transformed into “dinotrainers,” chugs off down the track. Fans of the prehistoric lizards will embrace the chipper rhymes, bursting with dino wordplay (“They dinosault like Ping-Pong balls,/ Bumping dinorumps and walls”).
Lund’s high-spirited humor finds a match in Fine’s gouache and watercolor illustrations. Endpapers introduce “Your Dinocrew” (including Captain Hadrosaurus and Cabin Boy Tyrannosaurus rex), who thereafter swagger, stagger and cavort across the pages sporting toothsome grins and ridiculously tiny nautical caps perched on their outsize heads. Young salts and dinosaur devotees will likely be happy to sign on for a cruise with this boisterous bunch.” — Publishers Weekly
This follow-up to Dinosailors follows the transportation-crazed reptiles as they work on and ride the rails. Once the dinocrew (wearing jaunty railroad caps) has loaded up the train with "Coal and lumber, oil and grain" and the prehistoric passengers have boarded (they ride atop the cars since they're far too big to fit inside), the train departs from its station on the plains and heads for the mountains.
Fine renders his scenes of goofy, grinning and occasionally overall-wearing dinosaurs with a hilarious sense of skewed elegance—the painterly brushstrokes and luminous, almost romantic pastel hues make the pictures seem like natural history museum murals as imagined by a daft paleontologist. As in the first dino-tale, the journey soon devolves into a series of comic mishaps. At one point the scaly fellows get out to push the train (" 'We think we can!' they dinosay"), and they end up soaking wet and huddled together on a single handcar for the trip back home, swearing, "We'll never take another train..." However, they hint that their traveling days are not over ("But how about a dinoplane ?").
While not quite as rollicking an adventure as Dinosailors (or as gross), there's plenty of slapstick fun in these pages, and Lund shows no sign of exhausting her supply of dino-hybrid words (a "dinostoker" shovels coal while the train's engine "coughs and dinochugs") Whether youngsters are fans of trains, T-rexes or both, they'll find this outing dino-mite. Ages 3-7. —Publishers Weekly
In Lund's (Dinosailors ) sweet and sensitive imminent-sibling tale, a preschooler asks her very pregnant mother for "the story about when I was inside you." Nakata (Lucky Pennies and Hot Chocolate ), like the insightful mother she portrays, keeps Mama's condition a secret from readers until the final pages, allowing them (again, like Mama) to focus on the girl's story. Mama, an expert raconteur, uses vivid and often comic detail to give depth to her unadorned language. "I bumped into people because I forgot how large I was. And Daddy pushed me up hills when we went for walks."
The girl eagerly participates in shaping the narrative. Her attentive face appears in miniature at the bottom right corner of the flashback spreads; she asks questions ("How did you get to be so big?") and adds elements she relishes from previous tellings ("And I was mad!" she gleefully recounts of her noisy delivery-room debut). Nakata fills the diagonal space between Mama's and the girl's comments with pastel watercolors that seem as light as air. Yet every scene percolates with the excitement of parental anticipation and a knowing, warmhearted sense of humor (Daddy's first-time-father anxieties—often manifested in his inability to keep his glasses on—make for an effective running joke).
The story ends on a simply articulated but enormously reassuring note: "The new baby will have its own story," Mama tells her daughter. "You'll still have yours." The shelf of new baby books may be crowded, but it's well worth making room for this graceful, gently funny entry. Ages 3-5.
—Publishers Weekly starred review