Posted in picture books, Uncategorized

Tyrone O’Saurus dreams of dancing!

Tyrone O’Saurus Dreams, by James Howe/Illustrated by Randy Cecil, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536210873

Ages 4-8

The companion to James Howe and Randy Cecil’s 2013 Brontorina is here! Tyrone is a T-Rex with big dreams. Dreams of becoming a dancer. But everyone else in his family has dreams for Tyrone, too: a dentist? A lawyer? A professional football player in the Dinosaur Football League? None of these are even close to what Tyrone wants to do with his life, but he doesn’t want to let anyone down, so he tries his hand… er, his small, arms… at football. As much as his brother tries to encourage him, it’s just not working. Luckily for Tyrone,a chance encounter with a dancing dinosaur gives him the courage to admit that his heart (and those tiny arms) are just not in football. His brother is right there with support: a dancer he wants to be, so a dancer he will be! He brings Tyrone to Madame Lucille’s Outdoor Dance Academy for Girls and Boys and Dinosaurs and Cows, where he sees Brontorina – the dino he met earlier – and is welcomed into the dance academy with open arms. James Howe and Randy Cecil inspire readers to defy expectations and chase their dreams. A scene in the gym where Brontorina tells Tyrone that she’s working out to be a better dancer reminds readers that not everything is as easy as it may seem on the outside, and reinforces that hard work and a love of what you do help one succeed. The adorable contrast between the giant dinos and the tiny humans will tickle readers’ funny bones, and dappled artwork gives texture to the pages. It’s been a wonderful return to Madame Lucille’s… I wonder if she’ll be accepting any more students?

Downloadable Teacher Tips at publisher Candlewick’s website give teachers talking points and activity ideas. Author James Howe’s website has a wealth of information for parents, caregivers, and educators, as does illustrator Randy Cecil’s website.

Posted in Adventure, Animal Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate

A little mouse has a big adventure in Douglas

Douglas, by Randy Cecil, (Sept. 2019, Candlewick), $19.99, ISBN: 9780763633974

Ages 5-8

Iris Espinosa goes to the movies one day, and ends up taking a small mouse home with her when it curls up in her pocket to nap. She names the mouse Douglas, after her favorite actor, Douglas Fairbanks, and Douglas ends up having a big adventure on the way back home to the movie theatre! A companion to Randy Cecil’s Lucy (2016), Douglas is also told in four acts, and is an exciting adventure filled with cats, humans, chases, and escapes.

The black-and-white artwork gives a lovely, vintage feel to the artwork, especially when Randy Cecil places readers into a more specific time frame by recalling a screen star from Hollywood’s Golden Age (Fairbanks was active in the 1920s and 1930s). There are mini-stories throughout the main story that make this so much fun to read: Iris’ sister meeting her boyfriend’s mother, with Douglas tagging along for the ride; the vigilant six-toed cat; Everett Dunn, who desperately wants a pet of his own; Mrs. Pennington and her large hat. There’s so much to enjoy while reading Douglas, and it’s a book kids will want to come back to, because there’s something new to discover each time.¬†As Douglas Fairbanks had his own swashbuckling adventures, so does Douglas.

Douglas has a starred review from Kirkus.