T is for terrible
Square Fish, 2008
What People Are Saying
From Our Follett Early Learning Experts
A tyrannosaurus rex explains that he cannot help it that he is enormous and hungry and is not a vegetarian.
From the Publisher
I am a dinosaur,
otherwise known as
a terrible lizard.
Horn Book (Spring 2005)
A Tyrannosaurus rex bemoans his bad-guy image and makes a bid for sympathy in this imaginative portrayal of a dinosaur's perspective. Shadowy pencil drawings in muted tones accompany the succinct text, capturing the wistfulness in the expression of the "terrible lizard" as he tries to convince readers that he can't help being the way he is.
Kirkus Reviews (July 1, 2004)
McCarty uses the soft, rounded forms and muted colors of his Caldecott Honor-winning Hondo and Fabian (2002) to similarly tongue-in-cheek effect. Here, Tyrannosaurus Rex makes a bid for sympathy: didn't he come from a humble little egg? Didn't he too have a mother? Can he help it if the ground shakes when he runs, or that he's just not cut out to be a vegetarian? Children may chortle at the repeated scenes of T. Rex toothily attempting to justify himself to smaller, cowed-looking prey-or maybe not: the humor of the disconnect between the art's harmonious, gentle look and the true nature of the creatures portrayed may be more apparent to sophisticated sensibilities. (Picture book. 6-8)
Library Media Connection (March 2005)
Using the first person to discuss life as a Tyrannosaurus Rex, the author mentions the problems this terrible lizard faced when he walked the Earth. Flowers are crushed and the ground shakes under the impact of his feet while other dinosaurs flee from him. Pondering this, the T Rex wonders what life would be like if he were different from what he is. What would he change? He tells us he would rather be a vegetarian than a carnivore, if he could, but accepts himself for what he is. Identity crises are often used in fiction, but here the T Rex explains why he is feared and still accepts himself for what he is, which provides an interesting twist. The muted colors of the illustrations show a T Rex with horizontal stripes, large head, and rows of teeth, giving him a look very similar to a shark. Other dinosaurs pictured might not be so easily recognizable. While the story seems to be more about acceptance than dinosaurs, children interested in dinosaurs will find something to discuss. The first-person writing, simple sentences, vocabulary, and compare/contrast text makes this a natural for classroom use and should prove popular with those readers who like dinosaur stories. Recommended. Leslie Greaves Radloff, Librarian Media Specialist, Rondo Instructional Resource Center, St. Paul, Minnesota
Publishers Weekly (July 19, 2004)
McCarty, creator of Hondo and Fabian, crafts an ominous T. rex tale, whose title refers to the word "dinosaur," meaning "terrible lizard." "I do not know why I am so terrible," confesses the hulking narrator, whose smooth blue-gray back is lined with delicate blood-red stripes. When herbivores scatter at his presence, the T. rex frowns with disappointment-but it is unclear whether he is lonesome or peckish. "I cannot help that I grew so enormous and so enormously hungry," he sighs. He expresses poignant misgivings for his appetites but makes no apologies: "If I could, I would be a vegetarian. But I am Tyrannosaurus Rex, and I do not eat trees." Without warning-in a wordless spread that sets all hand-wringing aside-he rampages into the airy green brush with his toothy mouth agape, sending smaller lizards diving for cover. McCarty plays the T. rex's reasoned comments against its bloodlust, creating a sociopathic hero. Older readers could find the first-person perspective troubling, because it makes "I can't help it" seem a valid excuse. The soothing visual style, all ethereal pencil lines and tissue-thin veils of color, enhances the irony too. Dewy white flowers glow as the T. rex crushes them under his clawed, three-toed feet, and the sinuous dinosaur might seem sympathetic if not for those intent beady eyes. Dinosaur-crazed preschoolers will adore the whimsical account of a predator's logic, and McCarty's impressive, diaphanous art helps make up for ambiguities in the narration. Ages 3-6. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal (August 1, 2004)
PreS-K-This picture book begins, "I am Tyrannosaurus Rex. I am a dinosaur, otherwise known as a terrible lizard." The creature continues to reflect on its own identity: "I do not know why I am so terrible." As the carnivore frightens other dinosaurs away, it wonders, "Would I be so terrible if I were pink?" In the end, it concludes: "I am Tyrannosaurus Rex- I cannot help that I am so terrible." Muted pencil-on-watercolor-paper drawings delineate a toothy but not too ferocious-looking beast with short front legs and a bemused expression (until the very end when it chases its dinner). Filled with textured lines and soft shading, the artwork glows with warmth and vitality. This beautifully formatted and well-conceived offering has creamy ivory pages that frame the subtle illustrations and spare text. It has just a hint of scariness, with a bit of humor thrown in-exactly right for the youngest dinosaur fans. A small book, but one that should be very welcome in storytimes.-Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
- Publisher: Square Fish
- Pub. Date: September 2, 2008
Format: Paperback 32 p. : col. ill. ; 23 cm.
- Age Range: PreK - Grade 1 (3-6 yrs.)
- Reading Level: 2.8 (What’s this?)
- ISBN-10: 0-312-38423-8
- ISBN-13: 978-0-312-38423-4
- Follett Number: 22703X7
- Language: English
- Guided Reading Level: L