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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tommysaurus Rex, by Doug TenNapel. graphix, Scholastic. 2013. $11.99 ages 8 and up

"Okay, you're not playing by my rules.
Maybe you're just afraid. You don't
have to hide!
Come out and play with me.
You must be scared...knowing
that you're probably the only one
like you in the whole world.

When Ely's best friend Tommy dies, Ely is inconsolable. His beloved dog and Ely did everything together, and there is now a huge hole in his life! His parents are concerned and send him to help his grandfather on the farm as a way to take his mind off the loss. HIs sojourn at the farm is filled with so much action and adventure that he cannot help but have his attention focused elsewhere.

Not long after his arrival, Ely is chased by bullies and finds himself in hiding in a deep and dark cave. Scary enough that he is in the darkness, he hears an unfamiliar sound. Later, feeling braver and wondering about the noise, he returns with a flashlight to discover a T-Rex! They quickly become firm friends. It takes some smooth talking and a lot of affirmative action to convince the mayor that Tommysaurus will not hurt anyone, and that he might bring prosperity to town.

Randy, the resident bully, is an interfering and persistent antagonist. When he lights a fire near the dinosaur, Tommysaurus is terrified. His reaction is immediate and dramatic, and puts his security within town limits in jeopardy. Luckily, the dinosaur has a good heart and comes to the rescue when Randy gets caught in the fire.

There are some real EWWWW! moments...and one that I found really gross, but it has  heart, touching on subjects of loss, friendship, forgiveness. The ending is heartfelt and gently satisfying. I don't often read graphic novels, but Doug TenNapel's Cardboard (Scholastic, 2012) made me a fan and I was keen to read this new one. I'm glad I did, and you will know those readers who will find satisfaction in reading it, too!

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