Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Jan. 20, 2021

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Check it Out: Delightful children’s books tame T. rex into trusty friend

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While watching the movie “Jurassic Park” recently, I came to a conclusion: 2020 is behaving like a Tyrannosaurus rex. The pandemic, the wildfires, murder hornets, all sorts of crazy weather events across the globe — they’ve charged right at us, sometimes with a roar. If we really had to have a dinosaur for 2020, why couldn’t it have been an herbivore, like a plant-eating stegosaurus? At least we might have had a chance of getting out of its way.

Since we seem to be stuck with T. rex this year, I thought I might as well put together a Tyrannosaurus rex reading list. And because kids love dinosaurs, the list is super kid-friendly. I remember having a dinosaur pop-up book when I was little, and I thought it was the coolest book ever. If you’re worried that these titles might be too scary for your little ones, here’s a secret: in these books he’s a vegetarian, or a chicken, or he just really loves Christmas. And sometimes a T. rex just wants to give you a hug, which is really hard when you have really short arms.

I can’t change how the 2020 Tyrannosaurs rex is behaving, but I can offer a gentler version of the beast with this selection of books. Have fun reading!

• “Chick-o-Saurus Rex” written by Lenore Jennewein, illustrated by Daniel Jennewein.

You may have heard that chickens are closely related to dinosaurs. Turns out that dinosaur DNA comes in handy when Little Chick is bullied by some of his barnyard companions, but not so he can bully them back. Find out how a chicken saves the day — and the bullies — when a hungry wolf enters the scene.

• “Linus the Vegetarian T. Rex” written and illustrated by Robert Neubecker.

Wouldn’t a broccoli-munching T. rex be a lot less scary? Dinosaur fan Ruth Ann MacKenzie thought she knew everything about dinosaurs, but when she meets Linus at the Museum of Natural History, and asks him why he isn’t acting like a predator, he shows her he’s still the king of dinosaurs (even though he likes to eat arugula).

• “Samanthasaurus Rex” written by B.B. Mandell, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman.

Here’s another T. rex who doesn’t fit the mold. Samanthasaurus Rex likes to paint, and she’d rather organize bones than gnaw on them. Her family knows she’s special, and when they decide to go for a hike up Mount Crushmore and discover that they’re climbing an active volcano, it’s Samanthasaurus’ unique skill set that proves just how special she is.

• “Santa Rex” written and illustrated by Molly Schaar Idle.

What if instead of Santa Claus coming down the chimney, it was a giant dinosaur? Santa Rex and some of his prehistoric buddies show up to help little humans, Cordelia and her brother, celebrate Christmas despite a few setbacks like knocking over the Christmas tree and breaking the fireplace while hanging stockings. A few mishaps really don’t matter when everyone — humans and dinosaurs — come to realize that the true joy of Christmas is being together.

• “Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug” written by Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Jay Fleck (also available as e-book).

If there’s anything we can mock the T. rex for, it’s the little arms. Seriously, I think it’s a design flaw. Well, it isn’t going to stop Tiny T. Rex from figuring out how to give a hug to his sad friend, Pointy, the stegosaurus. With some help from others, Tiny not only gets the job done but also discovers that “tiny” is just a matter of perspective.

• “Tyrannosaurus Wrecks!” written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora.

A classroom full of dinosaurs sounds rampageous, right? Actually, all is fine until Tyrannosaurus rex appears. He bashes and wrecks and RAWRS until he realizes that his behavior has ruined the day for his classmates. Will T. rex learn some manners and make up for his bad behavior? Check out “Tyrannosaurus Wrecks!” to find out.