goes to Sam Messerly for sending this in for review!
It's a fact of life: Just as Godzilla himself somehow
spawned a little one (Minilla, Godzooky, or Little
Godzilla, depending on the continuity), Godzilla
fans inevitably produced children of their own.
And, since even parents who happen to love Godzilla
want to share their interests with their children
whilst promoting literacy and learning, many American
Godzilla collectors pined for children's books starring
their favorite nuclear-powered monster blight on
humankind. (Admittedly, a monstrous metaphor for
the atomic bomb, a creature which causes mass destruction
and untold, hideous deaths and radiation poisoning,
is a strange subject for children's books, but I
digress.) For years, there was nothing to fill this
much-needed pop cultural void.
Then along came Random House in the mid-90s. Anticipating
the coming release of the new, big budget American
Godzilla film, and riding off the dinosaur-boom
following the big splash made by Jurassic Park,
the enormous publishing house put out a swath of
Godzilla-related literature mostly aimed at the
younger set and engaging the talents of one of the
finest kaiju-artists of all time, Bob Eggleton,
among others. Of the four books produced for the
very young, the two most well-received had to have
been those with Eggleton artwork inside, one of
which I will be examining here: Godzilla Likes
Released in 1998, two years after the first two
G-children's books were published, Godzilla Likes
to Roar! was written by Kerry Milliron, who
provided the texts for numerous Random House children's
books based on pop culture properties, such as Thomas
the Tank Engine, Theodore the Tugboat,
Xena: Warrior Princess, and Ninja Turtles:
The Next Mutation. Milliron must have been satisfied
with Eggleton's work here, for the two would work
together again later on the Star Wars: Episode
1 book, Watch Out, Jar Jar! All that
is to say, Milliron is experienced in jotting down
text for the consumption of rugrats, and with Godzilla
Likes to Roar! he produced what is probably
the most accessible children's book of the G-line.
Milliron's text is extremely simple and printed
large for easy readability, and is written in a
basic ABAB rhyming pattern with a metrical rhythm
of either three or four iambic feet per line. From
the first four pages, here are two couplets:
Godzilla likes to roar,
to shake the sky and wake the sun.
Godzilla likes to roar,
Then greet his friends and have some fun.
Basically, each couplet has three iambic feet in
the first line, and four in the second. This being
(sometimes loosely) iambic meter, the accent falls
almost without exception on every second syllable:
godZILLa LIKES to ROAR. Milliron establishes a regular
pattern for his simple, Hallmark-card-level poetry,
and sticks to it throughout the book, producing
a comforting, pleasant rhythm that should appeal
to the younger set. It's effective and fun, if necessarily
severely limited. Milliron never really mixes it
up, and keeps the vocabulary level low to facilitate
understanding—albeit this also does not encourage
further word learning.
Godzilla Likes to Roar! essentially has
no story; instead, what we have is a sequence of
loosely connected events that make up Godzilla's
day, centered around his roar. There is no inciting
incident, no building action, and certainly no real
climax. Instead, Godzilla roars and roars and roars
some more, and sometimes takes time out to play
with his fellow kaiju, eat coconuts, or, finally,
sleep. There is nothing but the charm of the monsters
and the poetry to keep kids interested, and no particular
lessons to glean from any of the actions therein.
Nevertheless, this is fun stuff, and the very young
should enjoy reading it (or having it read to them)
multiple times. Curiously, although Godzilla, Anguirus,
Manda, Mothra, Rodan, and Varan are listed on the
back, Mothra never makes an appearance anywhere
in the book, which may disappoint some.
Bob Eggleton's art, as always, is very pleasing,
with suit-accurate depictions of the monsters throughout.
I've criticized Eggleton's Anguirus art in the past,
but here the spiked one looks absolutely great,
as do the rest of the reptilian beasts. The amount
of detail put into the paintings is noticeably less
than some of Eggleton's work elsewhere, especially
in the backgrounds, which are quite sparse and sometimes
even muddy, with a rocky avalanche looking particularly
blurry. Nevertheless, in a book like this, it's
the monsters that count, and Eggleton does a fine
job that should satisfy most monster lovers. What
is most odd, however, is the G-suit design used
for all of the interior art. Though on the cover
Godzilla is depicted with overlarge eyes in a style
similar to the suit used in Godzilla
vs. Megalon (1973), inside Eggleton has
painted the Big G using the ubiquitous Heisei design,
which is a considerably more ferocious looking Godzilla.
It would seem more appropriate, as well as consistent,
to have kept to the almost chibi design utilized
on the cover, considering the age group.
For all its minor issues, though, Godzilla
Likes to Roar! is an adorable book with simple,
pleasing writing and fine Godzilla art that creates
a package any G-fan with little kids should enjoy.
Even older fans with child-like hearts may well
find something agreeable, if not particularly special,
in this book.