Thursday, June 25, 2009

Semi-Saurus: Dinotrux by Chris Gall

Millions of years ago
Prehistoric trucks roamed the earth.
They were HUGE!
They were HUNGRY!
But they weren't helpful like they are today.

Kids love dinosaurs. Kids love trucks. So what could be better than dinosaurs that are trucks, or trucks that are dinosaurs? That's the picture book world where author-illustrator Chris Gall's Dinotrux (Hachette, 2009) rule.

Look! There in the branches! CRANEOSAURUS!

He was always sticking his nose where it didn't belong.

CRACK! MUNCH! Look out, birds!

Then there is the DUMPLODOCUS, the morph monster of the dumptruck and the Diplodocus, who littered the ancient landscape with the contents of his loadbed, and the GARBAGEADON, which gobbled up and compacted everything in his path. ("Look out, cave man!") There was ROLLODON, who subdued his prey by rolling them flatter than Flat Stanley, but even worse were CEMENTOSAURUS and BLACKTOPADON, who trailed their gucky droppings behind them everywhere they went. In contrast, though, some Dinotrux were pretty laid back--especially the DELIVERADONS, which mostly napped during work hours, piled up like a litter of puppies. But the worst of all was TYRANNOSAURUS TRUX, before which all the others, even FIRESAURUS and DIGASAURUS, fled in fear.

So what happened to all these mighty monsters? Well, Gall says that a terrible storm transformed the Earth into goo and mud, into which the biggest and dumbest of the Dinotrux sank and expired. But fortunately for mankind, it wasn't a total extinction.

But the smart ones went south in search of better weather, and hundreds and thousands, and millions of years later they shed their teeth and their toenails and their misbehaving ways.

Come on, Dinotrux, lend a hand! Good work, Dinotrux!

Now they are always on the job.

And they never ever quit!

Chris Gall's clever text and strong inventive illustrations work together well in this tall tale of truckdom which has wide appeal to preschoolers and primary graders alike. For example, his endpapers feature a left-hand side which shows the morphed dinos/truck and a right-hand page which shows the modern truck version so that kids can match the two. Chris Gall has also created a cave family--dad, mom, and boy--who react humorously to the moto-monsters among them, and whose modern descendants are seen excavating the fossil Dinotrux from their prehistoric tar pits on the last pages.

Mike Mulligan and His Digasaurus? Danny and the Dozeratops, anyone?

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