Bland sauce: Others have dished up better.


Kids are shocked by their new librarian’s eating habits.

“The day Ms. Bronte came to school, / story time was extra cool,” warbles the collective narrator—except for one “small problem, / couldn’t beat it. / Once she read a book… // SHE’D EAT IT!” Big, irregular die-cut chomps taken out of the cover and endpapers lead to cartoon illustrations featuring a frumpy, bespectacled long-necked dinosaur smilingly wolfing down stacks of generic library volumes. Ms. Bronte then goes on to the school’s other stashes of books as students and grown-ups (diverse in skin color and facial features but all human) look on in wide-eyed dismay. Is it a love of books? Not at all, as Ms. Bronte explains as she packs up to leave: “It’s not that I find books so yummy, / but nothing else here fills my tummy.” Fortunately, she suddenly realizes that the school’s overgrown soccer field, there all along but somehow going unnoticed, is in serious need of weeding…just the ticket for a hungry herbivore. This contrived twist combines with a vague moral about how books are for reading, not eating, to give Tarpley’s addition to the annals of bibliophagy a tentative air—particularly next to more robustly comedic variations on the theme, like Franziska Biermann’s The Fox Who Ate Books, translated by Shelley Tanaka (2016), or Emma Yarlett’s Nibbles stories.

Bland sauce: Others have dished up better. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7168-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Iguano-don’t bother.


From the Iggy Iguanadon series

A little dinosaur navigates friendships and new foods in this early reader.

In “Playtime,” the first of this volume’s two stories, Mama tells Iggy that he’s to have a play date with Murka Macrosaur. Iggy’s afraid that she’ll be into girly things like princesses, but instead the two try a variety of different outdoor activities before settling on a ring toss that utilizes Triceratops Murka’s pointy nose. “Mealtime” sees Iggy eyeing a dinner of ferns with great suspicion. He’d much rather eat flowers, but even after Papa says he can’t have them until he tries his ferns, it takes Grandpa’s subtle intervention to convince the young dino to attempt something new. An opening key ranks the text as Level 2, defined as “Reading With Help.” With such words as Iguanodon, tagalong, Macrosaur, and triceratops on the first nine pages alone, that help will be sorely needed, especially for young readers who don’t already know their dinosaur names. Elegant writing does not mitigate this problem (“But Murka gets stuck in somersaults, the same as all triceratops”). Meanwhile, cumbersome, inexpressive art does little to distract from the text, and the absence of outlines around the uniformly green dinos makes compositions where bodies overlap particularly confusing. Finally, this may be set in the Cretaceous, but what really feels ancient are elements like an apron-wearing mom, a father as disciplinarian, and a grandfather who smokes a pipe. Companion title Bath Time & Bedtime publishes simultaneously.

Iguano-don’t bother. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3642-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Definitely a rousingly rumbly ramble, but the seams are rough enough to trip over.


Three young dinosaurs enjoy a percussive prehistoric perambulation.

Modeled on their Watersong (2017) McCanna pairs a text composed nearly exclusively of sound-effect words to Smythe’s bright and sprightly views of a triceratops, an ankylosaurus, and a generic sauropod, all sporting smiles, googly eyes, and hides in glowing hues. They cross a log over a stream, lumber through a rocky landscape as thunder rumbles, and tumble into a dark cave to escape the eruption of a nearby volcano. Unlike the previous outing, the sounds sometimes seem oddly unsuited to the action on the page. It’s hard to figure, for instance, how “clank clack // crinkle crackle / clunk” sounds like an ankylosaurus rolling down a steep hill, or “Bang bowl / clang roll” evokes a boulder doing the same. (Maybe the author had a storyline involving robots in mind and the illustrator took an unexpected turn?) Still, there’s never a dull moment, until the cave opens out at its other end to reveal parental dinos in a peaceful setting: Ahh, “Safe and sound.” The author suddenly turns voluble, adding a closing page of remarks about dinosaurs, magma, the three kinds of rocks, what paleontologists do, and other scattered topics at least tangentially related to the mise en scène.

Definitely a rousingly rumbly ramble, but the seams are rough enough to trip over. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3002-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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