Book Review: Tatsuya Miyanishi’s Tyrannosaurus Series

Author: Tatsuya Miyanishi
Country of original publication: Japan 
Language: Simplified Chinese
~ Pages per book: 40
~ Lines per page: 0-7
~Pinyin: No
~ Audio available: Luka compatible
Available in Singapore NLB libraries: yes

What is this series?

The series was originally published in Japanese, by acclaimed author and illustrator Tatsuya Miyanishi.  It’s sold over 10 million copies, and several year ago in the Chinese version was among the top 20 best selling children’s books in mainland China.

These books aren’t your typical dinosaur books for boys.  Yes, they have bold illustrations and dramatic plot lines, but behind this are sentimental stories which touch on the ability to love, forgive, share friendship, and be one’s true self.  These attributes are exactly what I feel a child needs to be hearing.   This group of dinosaur buddies can starve, misunderstand each other, lose their babies, and, in some cases, pass away.

The stories don’t always have happy endings, but they are all great stories, and share the message that love is stronger than violence, and that we must do the right thing even in difficult circumstances.    Often the books have an open-ended or ambiguous ending, which could be frustrating for a younger child, but great for a conversation and speculation on what would have happened, or how the dinosaur tribe might have been impacted by their adventures. 

I especially like the fact that the “not so happily ever after” endings show us that in our own lives, things won’t always work out as we had hoped they would, but we can always learn from it.  These books give lots of room for discussion on feelings and values, and how the endings may have ended up.  In all, they are really moving stories. My children enjoy to re-enact the stories with their own toys and make out different (usually just as tragic) endings.

An interesting thing to note is that the original Japanese series has 7 books, and so does the Chinese set.  However, the English translations only have 6….. so you’re getting a bonus by reading the Chinese set, which is the book entitled “I am Dad’s Favourite” 最爱的, 是我

Titles in the series:

#1 你看起来好像很好吃 You Look Yummy – about the importance of family and the love between father and son, and teaches that strong bonds can grow even without a biological connection (imagine a T-Rex finding a baby of a different species and the typical case of mistaken identity unfolding).

#2 你真好You Are My Best Friend – featuring a dinosaur who transforms from a selfish tyrant of a creature to a caring one, after discovering real friendship.  You’ll journey with Tyrannosaurus as he says “thank you” for the first time (which, from a Japanese cultural perspective, is a very big/hard word for many to come to terms with).

#3 遇到你, 真好  (translated from Chinese as “Good to Meet You” but the English book is actually published under the title “I Want That Love”) –   strong and violent Tyrannosaurus discovers the even stronger power of love:  his tail is bitten off, and some young triceratops nurse him back to health.  He then protects them and sacrifices himself in a later battle. 

#4  永远永远爱你I Will Love You Forever –  another heart-warming story about adoption and the never-ending love between mother and son, even when birth parents come into the picture.

#5 霸王龙 I Am A Tyrannosaurus: a   a mother teaches her Pterosaur son to be kind and to always help others in need.   The little dinosaur remembers his mother’s lesson when he decides to care for an injured Tyrannosaurus. 

#6 我爱你 I Really Love You:  A weak Tyrannosaurus meets three friendly reptiles who save his life, even though they do not speak the same language.  They become good friends despite this barrier, and it teaches that communication is about more than just words, and it a matter of the heart.



#7 最爱的, 是我 I Am Dad’s Favourite – this book has never been translated into English.   It balances nicely with book #4.  This time Tyrannosaurus discovers some eggs, but before he can eat them, a few babies hatch.  He treats them like they’re his own babies, and shows the extent of fatherly love


Who is this series for?

This series will be enjoyed by adults and children alike – it’s a great one to read together, and do be ready for the emotional questions which may come back at you!  Given the complexity of the storylines, a child is probably best older than 5 years of age – any younger, they certainly won’t get the story, and they may become upset by the bits which they do understand.  If you want your child to read it by themselves, they’ll need to know roughly 1300 basic characters – so a Le Le Book graduate could achieve this.  In Singapore, I’d think a P3 child would be able to read it independently, and a P2 could with some help. 

Where to buy in Singapore?

You can buy in Singapore from great children’s Chinese bookstores, including My Story Treasury . I’m excited to share that My Story Treasury has kindly extended a discount code to all readers of my blog. Use “lahlahbanana10” on check-out to receive 10% off any title that your purchase through their store.

If outside of Singapore, try Taobao or EZ Buy, with a search based on the story titles indicated above.

Other tips

  • Luka compatible: The books is compatible with Luka Reading Robot, for an audio read-out by page.  According to Luka developers, this series is among the top 100 most frequently read stories on Luka.
  • New dinosaur vocabulary: For a dinosaur-loving child, this is a good opportunity to learn the real dinosaur names in Chinese, as it does use real species, and obscure ones at that!
  • Parental guidance:  Keep in mind that some of the cute dinosaurs do die in several of the books, and it could be upsetting for a particularly sensitive child, or a for a child who isn’t able to get their questions answered by a parent.  I would recommend for non-Chinese reading parents to read the English versions first, so you can truly discuss this book with your child and enjoy it together. 

What else is there to know?

Actually I’d really love to know what your family’s favourite books are! Drop me a line as I welcome all suggestions.

If you want to read more on creating your own home Chinese library and great books to read with Luka, some earlier posts to look at would be:

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