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Tommysaurus Rex Paperback – May 28, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-The king of the offbeat graphic novel is back with a mixture of adventure, drama, and comedy. After the death of his dog, Tommy, Ely's parents send him to live on his grandfather's farm for the summer. There, he stumbles upon a Tyrannosaurus rex in a nearby cave. When the dino damages a home, the townspeople call for "Tommysaurus Rex" to be removed. Ely and his grandpa make a deal with the mayor-pay off the damages and train Tommysaurus or he goes. The story begins fairly realistically, then makes a big jump when Ely discovers the T. rex, requiring a pretty hearty suspension of disbelief. Happiness, sadness, fear-emotions are on full blast from the start. TenNapel knows how to add some edge that delights kids, but the envelope-pushing might make some adult readers squirm a bit. Themes of life and death are handled well, but may occasionally reach over the heads of some readers. The kinetic, full-color artwork is full of expression and will appeal to children. Unpredictable and engaging, this will be a popular pick for reluctant readers and graphic-novel fans.-Travis Jonker, Wayland Union Schools, MIα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
As evidenced by books like Creature Tech (2002), Ghostopolis (2010), and Cardboard (2012), TenNapel has never flinched from either gooey organic bizarreness or potentially troubling themes. Balancing uncomfortable emotions with wacky and whacked-out fun is a tricky line to walk, but walk it he does with the story of Ely, who, after the death of his beloved golden retriever, is spending the summer on his grandfather’s farm. After a grotesque encounter with the town bully, Ely discovers a real, live, surprisingly doglike dinosaur, and the two quickly bond. Ely and Tommysaurus must then find a way to endear the behemoth to the small town, while the town bully works against them all the way. TenNapel unleashes an array of charmingly off-kilter characters and has mastered a cartoonish style that preserves a sense of grit while lending some emotional weight to match the story. Ely’s struggle with his anger and frustration and the bully’s unsuspected reservoir of pain add to that heft, and ground all the rollicking dinosaur hijinks. Grades 3-6. --Jesse Karp --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Ely’s dog Tommy is hit by a car and Ely is devastated. In an effort to cheer Ely up his parents agree to let him spend the summer at his grandpa’s farm. While at the farm Ely finds a T-Rex trapped in a cave. Ely and T-Rex become the best of friends, but a media frenzy surrounding the T-Rex and a mean bully threaten this friendship.
I felt like the character development and plot was really rushed, especially in the beginning of the book. Everything... Ely’s loneliness and lack of friends, the death of his dog...is thrown at the reader really quickly. However, once the story gets going it is engaging and entertaining.
I think readers of all ages can enjoy this. It deals with some more mature issues that really young kids might not understand; for example bullying, being raised in a single parent home, and loss of a beloved pet. However I think kids 6 and up will be able to follow and understand. There are also some scenes where the bullies are very mean to Ely; for example at one part they force him to eat dog poop.
Given that we recently just lost our own dog, I found some parts of the story to be quite sad. I also chose not to read this with my seven year old because I think he would get too upset at those parts of the book. However the ending is hopeful and well done. TenNapel always does a great job of telling an entertaining story that is creative and interesting while still addressing some social issues (bullying, a parent leaving, etc). He also does a great job of giving stories a hopeful ending that feels natural.
The illustration is in full color and absolutely stunning, just like all of TenNapel’s books. Although there is an element of fantasy (Ely does find a T-Rex in a cave) this book was not as magical and fantastical as Cardboard and Ghostopolis were.
Overall I enjoyed this book. It is a fun and entertaining read. The pictures are beautiful and the story is engaging. There is some good discussion around loneliness, loss of a family pet, the leaving of a parent, and bullying. I would definitely recommend if you enjoy graphic novels with a fantasy element to them or if you are a fan of Doug TenNapel’s other graphic novels.
Would that more authors of today's children's books would send their muses to visit it.
Note: I am reminded of a somewhat similarly themed book The Enormous Egg that is actually older than I am yet still in print.