Monday’s Great Read for Kids – No T-Rex in the Library

We revisit our Monday obsession with all things kids’ books this week with the enjoyable No T.Rex in the Library by Toni Buzzeo illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa. This apparent no-brainer1 actually took a little getting used to but after a few run-throughs this reader2 found it to be delightful.

We start out on a peaceful Tuesday morning in the library. Young Tess comes in, all smiles and sunshine, with her mother. As there are – in fact – no such things as quiet mornings in libraries, Tess quickly begins contributing to the chaos. Put in time out, she pouts and accidentally3 knocks over a book cart, freeing a rowdy T.Rex from one of the books. And so the romp begins.

The rest of the book is a well-worn investigation of the many worlds that are open to the voracious reader of books. It also tells the parable of the girl who slolwly realizes that the dinosaur is her. What separates this tale from others of its type is the writing and a sly nod to mischief at the conclusion.

On first read, the writing seems all out of whack. The rhythm is awkward. Maddeningly the author gets up a pretty good head of rhyming steam and then brings it screeching to a halt. But, like a well planned racetrack4 the patient reader soon learns the curves and comes to enjoy the subtlety of the course. To wit:

Water spills as the story pit fills with fish and aquarium treasures/Orcas spout high. Swordfish, jellies, and squid reel by the knights doing synchornized swimming

Say wha!? I was just getting on a roll! Why not knights taking “extraordinary measures” or “enjoying the ocean’s pleasures”? What gives!?

Ah, but once you expect it, it makes a certain sense. The lack of rhyme subverts expectations just as the idea of knights in full armor strains our notion of what is good, right and orderly. The rollicking rhyme, brought to a standstill by a seemingly out of place word reinforces oursense that a might tyrant lizard is stampeding recklessly through the library.

As the T-Rex careens to new heights of destruction, Tess pleads with him to spare the books. Finally, she is fed up and puts the T-Rex in time out. Unruly behavior in the library brings the same punishment for prehistoric beasties as for young girls. But Tess realizes that her purgatory – and by extension that of T-Rex – is temporary. As she sits quietly, for now, in time out she whispers to T-Rex “I’ll be back for you.”

The children’s room in the library is not for the faint of heart, and No T.Rex in the Library reminds us that we can put but temporary reins on the madness. Time out or not, Tess will be back. All you unwary patrons have been warned.

1 I mean, really. It’s about dinosaurs. And libraries.
2 and more importantly, his son…
3 or was it?
4 Indy car, of course. All you have to remember in Nascar is just keep turning right

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