Reading Level: Middle Grade
Genre: Graphic Novel/Fantasy
Length: 144 pages
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5 stars
Previously I had red TenNapel’s books Ghostopolis and Cardboard and really enjoyed them both. I loved the quirkiness, the illustration, and the positive endings. Tommysaurus Rex was an entertaining read, but my least favorite TenNapel graphic novel so far.
Ely’s dog Tommy is hit by a car and Ely is devastated. In an effort to cheer Ely up his parents agree to let him spend the summer at his grandpa’s farm. While at the farm Ely finds a T-Rex trapped in a cave. Ely and T-Rex become the best of friends, but a media frenzy surrounding the T-Rex and a mean bully threaten this friendship.
I felt like the character development and plot was really rushed, especially in the beginning of the book. Everything… Ely’s loneliness and lack of friends, the death of his dog…is thrown at the reader really quickly. However, once the story gets going it is engaging and entertaining.
I think readers of all ages can enjoy this. It deals with some more mature issues that really young kids might not understand; for example bullying, being raised in a single parent home, and loss of a beloved pet. However I think kids 6 and up will be able to follow and understand. There are also some scenes where the bullies are very mean to Ely; for example at one part they force him to eat dog poop.
Given that we recently just lost our own dog, I found some parts of the story to be quite sad. I also chose not to read this with my seven year old because I think he would get too upset at those parts of the book. However the ending is hopeful and well done. TenNapel always does a great job of telling an entertaining story that is creative and interesting while still addressing some social issues (bullying, a parent leaving, etc). He also does a great job of giving stories a hopeful ending that feels natural.
The illustration is in full color and absolutely stunning, just like all of TenNapel’s books. Although there is an element of fantasy (Ely does find a T-Rex in a cave) this book was not as magical and fantastical as Cardboard and Ghostopolis were.
Overall I enjoyed this book. It is a fun and entertaining read. The pictures are beautiful and the story is engaging. There is some good discussion around loneliness, loss of a family pet, the leaving of a parent, and bullying. I would definitely recommend if you enjoy graphic novels with a fantasy element to them or if you are a fan of Doug TenNapel’s other graphic novels.