No T. Rex in the Library is another book from the Spoonfuls of Stories series that comes free on Cheerios boxes. I have to say that I don’t quite get the point of the story, but perhaps I’m out of touch.
The basic story line is that a little girl, Tess, is left in the library for ten minutes by her mother. Tess was acting in an out-of-control manner, so Mommy calls a time out and leaves, telling her, “No beastie behavior in the library.” This all seems odd to me. The author, Toni Buzzeo, is a real-life librarian, so maybe she is reporting the kind of parenting behavior she sees, but it doesn’t strike me as the best plan for how to deal with a naughty child. However, it does set up the story.
Now that Tess is angry and left alone in the library she leans her chair against a book shelf which falls over and spills the books. Apparently Tess actually likes books because she suddenly seems to have concern that they might be damaged. She starts to read the books, and when a T. Rex dinosaur emerges from the pages she grabs it and jumps on its back. The T. Rex proceeds to rampage the library, and Tess is now the one telling the dinosaur to behave properly.
Knights in armor appear, they swim through an aquarium, meet pirates and visit the Wild West. Finally the T. Rex builds a stairway of books and they climb to the skies and become astronauts. Tess becomes increasingly alarmed at the way the T. Rex is treating the books, and when he begins to rip one Tess yells, “Time out! No beastie behavior with my library books!” So now, Tess is the one who must help an unruly subordinate regain control. She pushes the T. Rex back into his book and tells him to wait ten minutes.
The book is written by Toni Buzzeo and illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa. Both are well-known in the area of books for children. Buzzeo has also written Dawdle Duckling and The Sea Chest. She teams with Yoshikawa on the Mrs. Skorupski series of educational books about a school librarian.
I wanted to like this book, but it really leaves me cold. It clearly reflects how children will “discipline” dolls or imaginary friends in the same way that they are disciplined. It clearly shows that Tess really does care about books even if she was out of control at first. It does end with the idea that we should treat the library with respect, but most of the illustrations show the dinosaur out of control. This leaves a stronger visual image of naughty behavior than of good behavior. My college Advanced Public Speaking professor would have had a fit about this. She always said that you should never keep reinforcing the wrong mental pathways, and I think she’s right!
But the story doesn’t seem to make sense, and I don’t like the action. I guess it bothered me that there was no set-up to show that Tess had any standards or love of books before we began. I didn’t like having the dinosaur tear through the library even if it was imaginary. I know, I’m an old fuddy-duddy. I really didn’t like the mother leaving Tess in the library alone for discipline. This isn’t a standard time-out scenario.
The theme may be that once Tess became absorbed in the imaginative things she could read in the library books she forgot about being an out-of-control problem. I guess I’d need to see how a child that acts badly reacts to the story, but I don’t see how this is any kind of real solution to developing self-discipline in a child. The child was not introduced to a book or shown how to redirect angry feelings, but was instead left alone and sort of naturally stumbled on to being a better person. I don’t think it works this way.
And the book ends with Tess and the dinosaur; the mother never comes back for Tess. Would this create anxiety for children who have separation issues?
The illustrations are cute but not outstanding. Sachiko Yoshikawa has also illustrated Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler.
This particular book has words all over the place on the pages. I found it a bit confusing to find the next piece of text in the correct language to keep the story flowing.
All of the Spoonfuls of Stories books are bilingual with English and Spanish. These free editions are 5.25 x 7 inches and stapled. No T. Rex in the Library has 32 pages. The appropriate level for this book might be pre-school through about grade one.
In conclusion, even though this book can be purchased in a hardcover edition, I’d skip it.