Sunday 2 August 2020


Chickensaurus by James Foley (Freemantle Press) ISBN 9781925815788 RRP $14.99 (PB)

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

Chickensaurus, the newest installment in a graphic novel series, that includes Brobot, Dungzilla and Gastronauts, is a story about a crazy and unpredictable invention. Sally Tinker (the twelve-year-old inventor S.Tinker inc), her friend Charli and younger brother Joe go to Maelstrom Manor, the home of Sally’s nemesis Dexter Maelstrom. Dexter reveals his new invention, a de-evolving ray gun that turns an animal into its prehistoric ancestor and to demonstrate he transforms a chicken into a dinosaur. The competitive Dexter is determined to outwit Sally but things don’t go as planned. Through its humorous black and white illustrations, the story is a fast-paced adventure, involving dinosaurs much larger than chickens, control collars linked to wifi and a mystery hacker.

When Sally and her friends arrive at Maelstrom manor, they’re taken for a tour where they meet the mistreated butler and maid and are shown paintings of a long, long line of successful Maelstrom men. In fact the family motto is ‘Only men may lead.’ Dexter’s sister Lyssa doesn’t seem to mind this, or does she? As they continue, it’s clear Lyssa is far cleverer than her brother, so it is no surprise to find out she’s the brilliant hacker. But then things get out of control, Dexter is turned into some kind of primitive ape and it’s up to Sally with all her courage and ingenuity to grapple with the giant dinosaur chicken and save the day.

Illustrations of dinosaur/chicken combinations both large and small (but all violent) are accompanied by suitable sound effects such as ‘Thoom’, ‘Skrawk’ and ‘Ba-Gawk’ to name a few. The mischievous little brother provides an ending that suggests more adventures ahead, especially since Lyssa, the evil genius, has flown away on a Pteryducktyl. Sally’s nemesis Dexter gets what he deserves and it seems (after his poo-throwing session) that he’ll be a better ape for it.

For middle-grade readers who like a lot of humorous action, this is their book. After all, the looks on the faces of the children on the cover say it all. What would you do if faced with a Chickensaurus?

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