Thursday, August 15, 2013

Candy and the Cankersaur

Author: Jason Sandberg
Publisher: self-published
Released: 2012
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Source: ebook from author for review
Candy gets lots of interesting toys from her father, and one day she gets a Cankersaurus Rex from the Island that Time Forgot. She trains her new pet and has lots of fun with him, but the neighbor boy Chucky is jealous, steals Cank and sells him to the circus. When he sees how sad Candy is and regrets what he's done, he, Candy, and Candy's father set out to rescue Cank.
This is a really smart, funny book. There are many little details that made me laugh and which will make kids laugh - like the way Chucky tries to get rid of Cank but runs up against adult pragmatic views that dinosaurs don't exist, to the point that a policeman staring Cank in the face calls him a large salamander! Kids will enjoy the way Candy tries to train Cank, with her First Rule of no biting eventually playing an important role in the rescue story. Another laugh-worthy moment is when Cank fetches a stick and then eats a tree because he likes the taste of wood. Sprinkled throughout a story that does get serious, these light moments strike the perfect balance and create a nuanced journey for kids. The main journey is of course the lesson about relationships. Chucky learns the right way to make friends, and Candy's father pays more attention to his daughter. Though these two lessons are learned by characters other than the main character, the lessons come through strong and clear. They are introduced somewhat baldly at the beginning of the story, when each character's flawed mode of relationships is stated outright, and when Chucky realizes his mistake. Despite this, the rest of the story uses subtlety to show the development of the characters. The illustrations are amazing, cartoonish and colorful, sure to draw children's attention and elicit conversation either as they read or as the book is read to them. Some words may be a bit difficult for younger children, but the style of the book makes it easier for kids to figure out the meanings. This book is meant as an homage to Syd Hoff, author of Danny and the Dinosaur, one of my favorite childhood books. Candy and the Cankersaur has the same light tone, though with a more serious lesson, and is sure to be a favorite too!

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