is yet another retelling of the mediocre story from
(1998), presumably for rugrats slightly older than
might appreciate the adaptation by Kimberley Weinberger
(supposedly for 5-8 year olds), but younger than
the readers of the chapter book adaptation by H.
B. Gilmour. This time ridiculously prolific kids'
author James Preller (creator of the Jigsaw Jones
series) provides the text.
For the benefit of the uninitiated, I’ll
just briefly zip through the plot synopsis here.
French nuclear tests in the sixties biggen-up a
lizard that nobody notices until the nineties. This
radioactive reptilian renegade, dubbed "Godzilla"
(more or less) by a Japanese victim, ends up in
Manhattan for no good reason and lays a big secret
nest full of eggs in Madison Square Garden that
nobody notices. Eventually, though, asexual Godzilla
and his brood of big-headed velociraptors are defeated
by the ingenuity of an entomologist, a ditsy blond
reporter, and a French secret service guy who looks
like Leon the Professional.
Preller's prose does the story no big favors. While
ten-year-olds will be able to read the tale with
ease, and more energy can be found than the dullness
Attack of the Baby Godzillas, nevertheless
when I first read through this book, I was so uninspired
I neglected to review the blasted thing and ended
up needing to reread it weeks later for this review.
Of course, I am not the intended audience for Preller's
work, but still, there just isn’t much here.
It’s lifeless. Almost all the humor from the
script is excised, and everything is taken very
seriously. Contributing to this problem is the dialogue
which, though taken directly from the movie, feels
kind of dead and out-of-place for a book aimed at
young children. Young kids tend to like lively,
funny stuff. This book is neither.
The visual design tries hard to make up for the
relative lack of interest in the text with blaring
colors and patterns on the background of every page,
almost always in some shade of puke-neon green.
Most of the graphical interest is taken up by stills
from the movie, but the vast, vast majority of these
are simply picks of the cast. While there are a
small handful of shots of Godzilla, most of these
only showcase bits of his feet; only two dare to
go so far as to show the monster’s head. I
know Godzilla's monster design was kept as secret
as possible for as long as possible, but great Godzilla
gravy, who wants to flip through a picture book
largely composed of shots of Matthew Broderick's
smug mug? Besides, even one picture of the Big Guy
“ruins” the surprise—why not give
the kids what they want? They want to see Godzilla,
for monster's sake!
Most big Godzilla fans hate the American Godzilla,
and while young kids might like the giant beast,
they probably aren't going to be won over by a book
that focuses on the charm of the vanilla human characters
and dumb story, to the exclusion of as much monster
visuals as possible. This book gives the kids pretty
much nothing of what they want, and provides the
angry G-nerds with another reason to hate on that
much-reviled remake. It certainly didn't engender
happy feelings in me.