July 03, 2008


I’m Bad! By Kate & Jim McMullan. HarperCollins. $16.99.

T. Rex and the Mother’s Day Hug. By Lois R. Grambling. Illustrated by Jack E. Davis. Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins. $16.99.

Daddy Hug. By Tim Warnes. Illustrated by Jane Chapman. HarperCollins. $16.99.

      There are lots of animals in these books doing lots of kid-centered things, starting with the fierce-looking T. Rex on the cover of I’m Bad! – from the same husband-and-wife team that previously produced I Stink! and I’m Dirty! Charming, no? In fact, what Kate and Jim McMullan offer here is charming in its own weird way, which is a way sure to appeal to lots of kids ages 4-8. The boastful T. Rex storms and stomps and crashes around, but every time he tries to catch something to eat, those other animals get away. Finally, hungry and upset, T. Rex throws a temper tantrum – which ends in a wonderful flip-up flap as his mother appears and drops a fresh-killed something-or-other on the ground so T. Rex can slurber, slobber and globber it up, afterwards concluding “I love my mom.” It’s all good clean bad dirty fun, missing only a scene in which little T. Rex hugs his mom in gratitude.

      For that hugging scene, turn to the much more domesticated, up-to-date and suburban T. Rex family in T. Rex and the Mother’s Day Hug. Lois R. Grambling and Jack E. Davis specialize in books in which the T. Rex family celebrates holidays – Halloween, Easter and now Mother’s Day. The problem for T. Rex is that he wants to do something for his mother, not just buy her something, but whatever he thinks of doing is, he realizes, a bad idea, because he has tried doing it before and things haven’t quite worked out as he wanted them to. As for Mama Rex, what she wants for Mother’s Day is simply a big hug; but that’s not good enough for little T. Rex, who finally thinks of something perfect to do – with the help of his friends, Diplodocus, Stegosaurus and Iguanodon. That “something perfect” turns out to involve Mama Rex’s car…and oh my, does it turn out to be a BIG surprise! “‘That’s…that’s my car?’ she asked. (Hoping it wasn’t!)” Oh, but it is – and the expression of her face is quite a sight. But before things can get too inflammatory, little T. Rex comes over and gives his mother a BIG hug, which is what she has been wanting all along, so everything ends happily, with Mama Rex being especially glad that “Mother’s Day came only once a year.”

      Daddy Hug
continues the “hug” theme without the holiday trappings and without the dinosaurs, but there are plenty of other animals here in a gently appealing book by the husband-and-wife team of Tim Warnes and Jane Chapman. This book is for younger children, ages 3-5, and is nothing more than a series of brief descriptions of animal daddies – “Daddy spiky” for a porcupine, “Daddy jiggle” for a walrus, “Daddy creaky” for a huge tortoise, and so on. Chapman’s illustrations portray the animals realistically but show their interactions in human-friendly terms, as porcupines play with ostriches, snails climb happily on snakes, and so on. The activities of daddies and kids are delightful to watch – fathers will really enjoy reading this book with young children – and the expressions that Chapman gives to some of the daddies are wonderful (the bee and gorilla, for example). The book leads up to an eventual “Daddy hug” page showing most of the animals nuzzling and embracing – a fine invitation for human daddies to do the same thing with their kids.

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