Yet another adaptation of 1998's American GODZILLA film, joining GODZILLA: A Novelization, GODZILLA: Attack of the Baby Godzillas, GODZILLA: A Storybook, and The GODZILLA Movie Scrapbook! in Scholastic's line alone, Kimberly Weinberger's GODZILLA manages to skillfully fail to distinguish itself much from the pack.
The story is the same as ever—French-created nuclear lizard-monster randomly migrates to Manhattan to nest and is foiled by a second-rate Scooby-Crew headed by a bug enthusiast. Naturally, graphic details from the movie are largely overlooked, as this is a children's book.
And Weinberger has many children's books under her belt (such as Hopsalot’s Garden and several adaptations of Cardcaptor Sakura), and she clearly knows how to write for a younger audience. The text is easy-to-read and engaging, but seems to be (strangely enough) at a higher level than GODZILLA: A Storybook and Attack of the Baby Godzillas. A number of elements in the story are poorly explained, however—including a jarring scene where the two reporters reappear in Madison Square Garden with no prior depiction of how they got there. As I say over and over again, just because you're writing to little kids doesn't mean you can be lazy in your plotting. Give the youngsters some respect!
If Weinberger skips over some plot details or explains them only after they occur, she also includes a couple non-canonical Godzilla details, such as a scene of Godzilla blasting military vehicles around with a mighty belch, and her version of Godzilla actually drags its tail! I wonder if she ever got a glimpse of the design before writing. Of course, her readers wouldn’t get much more than a glimpse of the beast themselves.
Yes, Weinberger’s book’s visual design is almost exclusively shots of the actors mugging concerned faces on every page. And once again, the design exhibits random bits of Godzilla anatomy splashed higgledy piggledy—an industrious artist might try to piece together Godzilla's full body from the jigsaw-slices plastered here. As faithful readers should be able to predict by now, full-body shots of the monster are lacking. Thankfully, at least the designers didn’t indulge in the neon-vomit color schemes that plagued some of Scholastic’s other releases.
Weinberger, who also co-authored The Official Godzilla Movie Fact Book, has put together a more-or-less competent text here for the rugrat set, and Godzilla-loving parents could do a lot worse (I’m looking at you, Attack of the Baby Godzillas.) Still, the lack of decent shots of the scaly star hampers the book, as is the case with practically all of Scholastic’s releases. Kids, just like most adult Godzilla fans, really want to see the monster! Thus, I can imagine reading this one to kids as a bedtime story—but only if you want them dreaming about a clownish Matthew Broderick!