She Rex by Michelle Robinson and Deborah Allwright
"She Rex is a big and burly, multi-coloured dino girly..." Ed won't let his sister Maisy play with his toys, claiming “Dinos are for boys.” Maisy doesn't let that stop her, and she tells an incredulous Ed all about a dinosaur she just saw called She Rex. Maisy begins by making a portrait of She Rex but paints an even more vivid picture with her words.
While Maisy describes this dinosaur to Ed, a larger than life “lizard queen” emerges through their lively back-and-forth exchanges. As Maisy and Ed debate, She Rex and an entourage of Jurassic pals, stomp around gleefully in the background. They have a tea-party, form a band and devour burgers and chips.
Ed derides She Rex, suggesting that “girlosaurs” would “wear high heels, invite their friends around for meals” and “skip through meadows holding hands in flowery dresses.” Maisy insists that She Rex hunts, eats, roars and that, “girl dinosaurs have equal bites.”
This is currently one of our favourite stories. We've read it so often in the last couple of weeks (often three or four times in a row) that I've actually memorised the words.
She Rex is so much fun to read aloud. My kids love to shout "ROAR" along with Maisy and always get into hysterics when she tentatively calls "Ed...?" after he apparently disappears. They're fascinated by the dinosaurs' food when they're "dining out." The three-year-old always points out that dinosaurs don't have tomato ketchup with their chips (which they both find astonishing).
We were lucky to see Michelle Robinson interviewed by Mama G during one of her recent lockdown story time sessions (a super way to spend a Sunday evening). Mama G read Ten Fat Sausages which and recently won the 2020 Lollies Laugh Out Loud Picture Book Award. Mama G asked Michelle about some of her other books, including The World Made a Rainbow (which we also love) as well as She Rex.
When talking to Mama G, Michelle mentioned She Rex is a response to being told girls couldn't do, or play with, certain things when she was younger. She Rex does her best to destroy gender stereotypes, trampling them with her "giant feet" and crushing them with her "massive teeth." Maisy is a wonderful character; as fierce and feisty as the formidable reptile she describes. The sibling relationship is captured brilliantly and convincingly.
Michelle Robinson is a prolific author who wrote her first story at the age of five, has published more than 40 children's books and won lots of awards. I love Deborah Allwright’s colourful and animated artwork. She has been shortlisted for the V&A Awards and illustrated several bestselling picture books including another of our favourites, There is no Dragon in This Story (review coming soon).
She Rex is an extremely entertaining celebration of creativity and imaginative play, which powerfully demonstrates that girls can do anything – as can “girlosaurs.” An excellent book for a nursery or primary school and a clever and compelling bedtime story.
Author: Michelle Robinson
Illustrator: Deborah Allwright Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 6th August 2020