GODZILLA: A Storybook
 James Preller
Language: English Release: 1998
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 48
Genre: Fiction ISBN: 059057213X

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Back Cover
Nicholas Driscoll

Here is yet another retelling of the mediocre story from GODZILLA (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 of GODZILLA: 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.