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[( Dinotrux )] [by: Chris Gall] [Jul-2009] (Anglais) Relié – 2 juillet 2009
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After that progression from good to great to phenomenal, I have been eagerly waiting for this next book. But after reading it several times over a few weeks, I'm disappointed.
It's a good book, and my kids do enjoy it. Some of the illustrations are fun. But it just doesn't approach the levels of his previous two books. Here's what I found disappointing:
1) The illustrations. I love the illustrations in all of his previous books. I can look at them over and over, and scrutinize the details, and I never get tired of it. My kids never get tired of them either. But the illustrations in this book just don't grab me much. A few of them are interesting, but none are as interesting as his previous work.
2) The story. Yes it's an interesting concept. But it's not fleshed out very well. And it just doesn't work that well, at least for kids the age of mine (5 and 3). I have to explain over and over, and it never seems to really interest them. Their reaction is more like they find it weird and strange -- and a little boring -- than really interesting and fun. Again, these are kids that LOVE this author's previous books. They also love dinosaurs, and like trucks.
Once it's time to return it to the library, I have no plans to buy it, and I'm pretty sure my kids won't ask for it. So his previous two books, which we do own, will get read many more times while we wait for his next book after this one.
I'm all in favor of an artist exploring new ground. The artistic style of his first three books were all fairly similar, and if he felt the need to branch out, I certainly don't begrudge him that. But whatever he tries next, I hope works better than this.
It's now been a few months since it went back to the library, and the kids haven't mentioned it. That says it all. Meanwhile, they have asked for the author's previous books for bedtime reading.
Chris Gall is obviously capable of making excellent childrens' books, and I look forward to his next effort after this.
They were here long ago. When the world was a vast wild place, dinotrux ruled. They are the ancestors of the gentle benign trucks we know today, and their ways were harsh and strange. If a caveman wasn't running for his life from the dangerous (and incredibly fast) Semisaur then he was trying to avoid a Cementosaurus's smelly leavings. It was the world of the Craneosaurus, the Blacktopadon, and the ever terrible Tyrannosaurus Trux. Of course that was before the great flash of light and terrible storm. Dinotrux rusted and sank into the mud, while a few managed to escape southward into warmer climates. Since that time they have domesticated, and the remains of the old Dinotrux are dug up at the oddest of times. Now only one things is certain. Dinotrux are always on the job. "And they never, EVER quit!"
The trux themselves are rather clever. Gall has figured out the logistics between combining the reptilian with the industrial. He has considered such details as how a Craneosaurus or a Garbageadon would eat. And I don't think any adult who sees the two-page spread of brown Deliveradons asleep in a lazy pile won't instantly think of UPS and late deliveries. Gall clearly studied up on both dinos and actual trucks to get the right feel for his mechanical monstrosities.
There's a lot of repetition in the pictures as well. The three primary cavepeople who appear in the past are reimagined as contemporary humans when we see one of the final shots in the book. The endpapers too show some nice differences between now and then. On one page you will see trucks as normal, dull, standard entities, sitting without much flair or show. On the opposite page those trucks appear once again, only now in their newly dinotruxed state. Kids will have quite a bit of fun matching one truck to another and then, presumably, finding the dino-like similarities in trucks in the real world.
I think this might mark the first time I've ever seen a cheeky publication page. Sometimes a book's design will incorporate its serial number in an amusing fashion, but this was the very first time I looked to see what the illustrations were made of only to read, "The text was set in Cafeteria Black, and the display type is hand-lettered. The artwork for this book was created using bearskins and stone knives." Below those words you can see a caveman carving the Little, Brown and Company logo into the side of a boulder. If we can assume that Mr. Gall hasn't changed his style any then it this book could be a mix of engravings, paint, and ink. It's hard to know, though. At the very least the pictures in Dinotrux are filled with movement, action, and shifting perspectives. There's a black, almost dusty fog that lies over the prints, giving this prehistoric world the feeling that it's engulfed in truck-tastic soot and smoke. Believable.
The text is also rhythmic and bouncy. You can't help but like a sentence that says "they shed their teeth and their toenails and their misbehaving ways." Interestingly Gall has chosen to pepper his pictures with exclamations by the routinely fleeing cavepeople. Some of these work better than others, suggesting that they were a last minute additions. For example, while the Caveman saying "Yuck" when trapped in dinotrux muck makes sense, the next page shows two cavepeople cooking a fish with hugely worried looks on their faces. The text below them reads, "Let's have a barbecue!" which is a doggone cheery thing to see under two such worried souls.
Craziest argument you're going to hear when this book is looked at? It's twofold. I suspect that some parents will believe that this book will twist their young children's minds, causing them to think that dinotrux really used to exist millions of years ago. And maybe that'll be true for the odd child here and there. Fun fact: They'll get over it. Seriously. Kids are savvy critters, and a lot of them are going to accept this book for what it is: fun. Besides, do kids read Babar and then assume that all elephants wear spats? I don't think so. The second objection whipping about in the future? I can actually hear someone saying that this book promotes the mistaken belief that dinosaurs and cavemen existed at the same time. It's patently ridiculous since there are no dinosaurs even in the book. Zippo, zero, zilch. I mean, these are probably going to be the same parents who let their kids watch The Flintstones, and isn't THAT just a hotbed of historically accurate fact finding? So if you've objections on either counts here, lay them to rest. I can't acknowledge either.
As strange as it sounds, this book may act as a perfect complement to Jon Scieszka's Trucktown series. In both cases the artists working on the books had to figure out the logistics involved in adding eyeballs and personalities to welded bits of steel and rubber. And Dinotrux is perfect for that kid who wants trucks and dinosaurs just a little more dangerous than usual. It's not the usual dino-laden title out there, a fact that will definitely serve Dinotrux well in the future. Fine, frightening, fun, fantastic fare.
This is a story pulled from prehistoric times when the DinoTrux ruled the world! We meet such critters as the Craneosaurus, Dozeratops, Duploducus, Garbageadon, Digasaurus and many, many others. I was unable to find a piece of heavy equipment that the author and artist (one in the same) had not turned into a living creature with dinosaur and heavy equipment features...all rather ingeniously done.
The author has created a world filled with these raging beasts and inhabited with it with stereotypical "cavemen," (Think Barney Rubble and his family), and "regular critters," all being rather fearful of the giant DinoTrux! The dialog is rather comical, exciting and filled with cracks, munches, crashes and crunches. We have creatures that sort of make "messes" such as the Cementosaurus who "eliminates" a rather stinky sludge and a Backtopadon who hikes his back leg and well....you get the picture. Kids love this sort of think.
Ah, but one day a large light appears and terrible storms begin...the age of the Dinotrux has come to an end. We than flash forward thousands and thousands of years and we find archeologist digging up these strange creatures and placing them in a museum. All is well...or is it?
The bold and action filled pictures; all of which are extremely detailed and the fast flowing, almost rhyming text make this a sure fire popular book with the younger set. We have this one in our school library and it gets so much use that it is beginning to quickly fall apart.
In addition to the book, the author has also given us a removable sheet at the back of the book of card stock material which is actually nine trading cards with information and illustrations on both the front and the back. These cards feature all of the animals/machines featured in this book.
As an added, and probably unintended on the author's part, bonus, I find many of the kids in school taking this work and trying to draw and duplicate these pictures for themselves, and indeed; I have spotted many rather creative variations of the authors work. This is a good thing. The book seems to activate young imaginations.
This is the same author who gave us Substitute Creacher, which is one of my favorite recent books. It should also be noted that the author has just released a sequel to this work entitled Revenge of the Dinotrux which tells the story of what happened to these beasties after they get tired of their enforced rest in the museum...this follow up book is an absolute hoot.
This is a good book. It is filled with plenty of challenging words and has not been dumbed-down, yet at the same time is an overall easy read. This is one you need to add to your child's library and it most certainly should be made available in school libraries.
The question has come up as to whether or not this book is scary for children. It has been my experience that not one child I have observed has been even mildly fearful of what is between these pages. Even the younger ones; three and four years old, tend to giggle more often than not. Kids are brighter that most of us give them credit for and most can distinguish between silly fantasy and reality. That is the business of the parent though. If you feel your child might be upset by this sort of thing then don't let him or her read it. That is one of the many important functions of a parent and/or teacher.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for an honest review. An honest review you got. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising and Amazon reviewer guidelines.