cover image The Prehistoric Games

The Prehistoric Games

Janet Lawler, illus. by Martin Davey. Pelican, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4556-213

“They happen every thousand years—/ the Prehistoric Games./ To start things off, a torch is lit/ by hot volcanic flames.” Blending modern sports with now-extinct creatures, Lawler (Love Is Real) and British artist Davey stage a kind of Jurassic Olympics, with dinosaurs competing in track-and-field events, basketball, dodgeball, and more. While there are some clever moments (such as the aforementioned torch lit in a lava flow), in both concept and execution, the project feels like a blatant knockoff of Lisa Wheeler and Barry Gott’s long-running series of dino-themed sports books. Lawler’s rhymes take readers from event to event, with only a few stumbles (“The Prehistoric Games fly by/ until the final day/ when team events take place before/ a trial sport display”), and Davey creates a good amount of visual humor as he dresses triceratops, pterosaurs, troodons, and other dinosaurs in brightly colored singlets, tracksuits, and jerseys. A brief glossary and pronunciation guide address both the featured dinosaurs and some of the athletic and biological terms used in the verse. Competently executed, but deeply derivative. Ages 5–8. (Feb.)