by Masashi Tanaka
published by DC/CMX Manga; $5.99 US
Masashi Tanaka’s Gon is a tiny dinosaur with an attitude bigger than the largest Tyrannosaur. Somehow, he’s made it to modern times, where he fights all kinds of wilderness creatures. The animals are beautifully illustrated in great detail, wordlessly, making this an attractive read for all ages.
Children in particular will identify with Gon. He’s little, but he’s got power, and bigger animals are afraid of him. That’s a potent fantasy for youngsters. Gon is a bundle of never-ending energy and destruction in a tiny package, which parents will recognize as well. Ugly little critter, too, fascinating with his reptilian stare. (Don’t let the cover image fool you; it’s been cuted up.)
There’s a short opening insert in color, in which a variety of animals come across a sleeping Gon and react according to their type. A squirrel is petrified and runs away. A leopard tries to eat Gon but breaks his teeth on his scaly skin. A charging rhino kicks Gon away, which doesn’t even wake him up. Later on, he rides a lion, clinging to its mane, and builds a tremendous dam to outdo the beavers. He also hangs out with a bunch of eaglets in their nest, until the mama bird tosses him out to deal with a marauding bobcat.
The book is unsentimental about the necessities of life in a violent world. Animals eat each other or battle over who gets the food. Gon shows that you don’t have to be the biggest to get what you want (as he takes down a huge black bear, turning him into a comfy place to take a nap), just the fiercest and most determined.
(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)