Gigantosaurus: Try Again, Tiny (9781536214093) / Smart Move, Mazu (9781536214079) / Rock Out, Rocky (9781536214086) / Dream Big, Bill (9781536214062) by Cyber Group Studios. Candlewick Entertainment, 2020
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Picture Books
What did you like about the book? This series features four young dinosaur friends who are all learning some very important life lessons. Tiny is a triceratops who wants to be accepted for doing things her way; Mazu is an ankylosaurus who discovers her own special strength; Rocky is a parasaurolophus who comes to accept that he cannot do everything by himself; and Bill is a brachiosaurus who learns how important it is to not grow up too quickly.
I really like how the stories, a lesson learned by each dinosaur, were set up in each book. The front of each book introduces the character and the lesson they are going to learn in this story. I think this is good because both children and adults can be thinking about the lesson as they are reading the story. There are many opportunities for an adult to pause and maybe ask the child their thoughts on what is happening with the character in the story. The end of the book recaps the lesson that the character learned about themselves.
Try Again, Tiny – This is a cute story about a young triceratops that marches to the beat of a different drum. Tiny is a carefree triceratops who loves nothing better than hanging out with her friends Rocky, Mazu, and Bill. One day while the friends are all outside playing, Tiny is approached by her big brother Trey. Trey is trying to help Tiny prepare for the triceratops trials, but she has trouble taking any of this preparation seriously. Trey begins to work with Tiny on mastering some important skills. Trey first asks her to tackle a fallen tree, but Tiny would rather decorate it with pretty flowers. Trey then shows Tiny how to jump in the air so that the ground would tremble when you landed, but Tiny would rather do some break dance moves. Every time Trey tries to teach Tiny something, she always wanted to turn it into something fun. He continues to tell her that these are important skills she needs to learn if she wants to be an independent triceratops and not remain with the herd all the time.
Things get a little more serious when Trey gets stuck in quicksand as Giganto (a mean and very scary dinosaur) approaches the group. They all run away, but Trey is stuck. Tiny and her friends are able to free Trey using the skills she has learned—but with her own special twist. In the end, Tiny passes her triceratops trials with flying colors—but she does it all her own special way.
This is a great book to show children how important it is for them to do things in their own special way and not how others expect them to perform. Trey is constantly telling Tiny that she has to do things a certain way, but she is able to do what needs to be done in her own special way. Trey was also her biggest supporter in the end, so I liked that part as well.
Smart Move Mazu – Mazu is a young dinosaur who is very discouraged that she cannot run fast. This becomes especially frustrating when she is playing baseball with her friends and cannot run around the bases before getting tagged out. Her friends try to tell her that she has another talent—she is the smart one in the group, but that does not make her feel any better. She looks around at all her fast friends and comes up with some ideas that might help. She notices that her friend Iggy has springy legs so she makes some springs to attach to her own legs. Now she becomes too springy. She notices that Giganto has long legs so she makes some stilts and attaches those to her legs. However, now balancing has become a problem. She is trying different things, but nothing seems to work. Later in the day, all the dinosaurs are gathering to collect some large nuts that have fallen from the trees during a windstorm. Mazu and her friends are happily gathering some juicy nuts when a hungry Giganto comes around the corner. There is no time to run, but Mazu has a plan. She instructs all her friends to hold the nuts high above their heads and let the wind blow through the walnut leaves. This allows the friends to soar in the air and safely escape from Giganto. Mazu now realizes that her legs might not move so fast, but her mind moves very quickly. She is now very proud of her own special skill.
Rock Out Rocky – Rocky is a strong and confident dinosaur who wants to do everything all by himself (just like so many young children!). Rocky is constantly trying to prove his strength and power—this time he is trying to climb a fiery volcano in record time. Just as he is beating his own record, Rocky stumbles on a rock that sends a huge boulder tumbling down the mountain. This causes Rocky to stub his toe, scare his friends as the boulder nearly hit them, and ruin his chances of beating his own record to climb the volcano. His friends offer suggestions to help his toe and to help him walk, but he says he will carry on just as his hero Giganto does—all on his own. Rocky even gets out his Giganto cards (like baseball cards) to show Giganto doing all kinds of things all by himself. As the friends continue walking (and Rocky continues hobbling) they come upon Giganto making a huge fuss and appearing to be in a lot of pain. As it turns out, the boulder that fell from the volcano is now lodged in between Giganto’s toes. Rocky sees this as an opportunity to help Giganto all by himself, but he soon realizes he cannot help Giganto by himself. As a team, the friends remove the boulder between Giganto’s toes and this leaves Rocky with a new understanding of just how much he really does need his friends.
Dream Big, Bill – In this story, Bill is very anxious to grow up. He sees all kinds of other dinosaurs bigger than him and he cannot wait to get as big as them. He becomes even more impatient after Ayati, a wise elderly brachiosaurus, takes him for a ride. Perched on the top of her head, he can see what it would be like to be big and tall—even bigger than Giganto! Ayati then tells Bill that he can learn the secret of growing up if he can just find the mysterious dinosaur who will share that information. With very little to go on, Bill and his friends set out on an adventure to find the mysterious dinosaur. Throughout their search, they find many unusual dinosaurs, but not one of them claims to be the mysterious dinosaur. What we do see on this adventure is how Bill grows on the inside. He is slowly realizing that growth comes from within. This message is reinforced when Bill sees several different giganotosaurus footprints in the dirt—some very large like Giganto, but others are very small. This is when he realizes that even Giganto was very small at one time. In the end, Bill and his friends learn that he was the mysterious dinosaur all along and that Ayati sent him on a mission to learn about himself.
Anything you did not like about the book. These are only available in paperback, so that might be a problem with repeated library use.
To whom would you recommend this book? These stories are perfect for children between the ages of four and seven years old, especially if they enjoy the Gigantosaurus TV series.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, anyone who works with children between the ages of four and seven years old.
Where would you shelve it? Picture Books
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes. There are a couple of special features about these books. The beginning of each story shows readers a special item that is characteristic of each dinosaur. For Tiny it is her favorite little blue flower, Mazu has a spyglass because she is always searching for new inventions, Rocky’s special item is Giganto cards because Giganto is his hero, and for Bill it is coconuts because that is his favorite food. As children read through the book, they are asked to find these items hidden in the illustrations of the story. There is also a two-page spread of stickers on the last page of each book.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.
Date of review: August 18, 2020