Mark Sperring, , illus. by Alexandra Steele-Morgan. . Scholastic/ Chicken House, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-53162-7
Prehistoric lizard lovers will glom onto this fantastical tale from a first-time team. "There must be some dinosaurs somewhere," says Marty, a boy with a very active imagination who envisions all the fun to be had hanging out with one. Convinced that the terrible lizards are merely hiding, he searches the house and turns up a host of the fabulous and fictitious, including a monster (under the bed, of course), an alien, a unicorn and a giant (who displays his full height in a vertical spread). A spiky tail poking out of the toy closet looks promising, but the gatefold reveals only a dragon. With newcomer Sperring's economic text doing little more than describing the content of the pictures, it's up to Steele-
Morgan, also making her children's book debut, to carry the action, and she does a terrific job, with grainy, densely colored illustrations reminiscent of plates from old fairy tale books. She strikes just the right balance between comedy and fantasy, with Marty as the avid (and never cowed) straight man: The antennaed alien hides under the table, fighting with the dog for scraps, while the elegant, gleaming unicorn calmly sniffs flowers in the garden shed. It seems that Marty may have the last laugh: as the book closes with Marty's mother gently trying to explain the facts of extinction to her unconvinced son, a dinosaur peers through Marty's window—and the final spread reveals other big fellows lurking on the lawn. Ages 3-up.
Reviewed on: 12/15/2003