‘Rhymosaurs’ books teaching life lessons through dinosaurs, hip-hop
Dinosaurs and hip-hop teach kids life lessons from Brooklyn, New York, to Stockton, California.
Orlando Molina aka MC Zeps, author and creator of “Rhymosaurs”, mixes dinosaurs and hip-hop in her child’s book series to teach lessons based on aspects of her own life and her children.
The Brooklyn-born and raised hip-hop MC’s debut book titled “Brush Your Teeth Rex” premiered in New York City. The story follows Tommy Rex as he finds a way to brush his teeth with his little arms.
A book inspired by Molina’s own life as he neglected going to the dentist for many years, leading to surgery and extensive dental work.
“I said ‘let me write a book about keeping your teeth clean so other kids don’t have to go through this,'” Molina said.
The inspiration for the children’s book series came when Molina’s wife became pregnant with his now 5-year-old daughter Sultana. He wanted to find a new way to work with hip-hop and incorporate it into his new life as a father.
“I felt like I needed to do hip-hop for my future daughter…” Molina said. “So that’s how I got the idea to write a children’s book, and to mix it up with dinosaurs, that was when my wife was pregnant.”
Before dinosaurs, Molina tried to use characters such as aliens, robots, and monsters, but none of them made sense to Molina.
“I felt like kids loved dinosaurs,” he said.
The rest of the series, books two, three and four, came out of Stockton.
Her second book, “Tara Takes Flight”, was also inspired by Molina’s life. Molina remembers his mother sending him and his brother to Puerto Rico to visit their father. They were traveling alone and the stewardesses took care of them until they landed.
“It’s kind of a younger me, scared to fly,” Molina said.
“Try, Sarah Tops”, the third book in the series, is about a picky eater. Molina, who was a picky eater as a child, tries to teach her children not to be picky eaters.
The final book, the fourth volume in the series, “Tyler Rex the…Two-O-Ninosaurus,” is a reference to the 209 area code and its own move from Brooklyn to Stockton. This book was financed by the local association Tuleberg Press.
Molina and his wife moved to Stockton to raise their family closer to his wife’s family. Molina wanted to incorporate San Joaquin County into his book for two reasons, he said.
This is a good message for kids whose parents travel or move a lot and they have to start over in a new town and because he loves Stockton and is raising his family here he wanted to shine a light on Stockton to counter what the community is hearing or sees in the news or the media, he says.
Once “the creative juices start flowing”, it only takes Molina and illustrator and art director Charles Brian Ugas “oOge” a few weeks to create a new book.
Molina said he writes his books “like songs” using hip-hop beats writing them like a rap. He records a demo, shares the rhymes with Ugas so he can listen and read the rhymes, and gives him no direction for the illustrations.
A page from the book says:
“Although he missed bagels and pizza a little
His family found taco trucks in Manteca
Superhero moms in Lodi without the capes
Nice shops and farms with a thousand grapes”
—Orlando Molina, aka MC Zeps, “Tyler Rex the…Two-O-Ninosaurus”
The graphic designer for “Tyler Rex the…Two-O-Ninosaur” is a local graphic designer who can be found on Instagram as vbrnt.tm.
“Each book has a different designer. It was all my friends who helped me along the journey…” Molina said. “That’s how we did the book rhyme, the illustration, the graphics, published.”
All books have a section of black and white pages called “graffiti stain” where children can be creative.
“It is intended to stimulate literacy on both aspects to read the story, but then write your own. Remix the book,” Molina said.
Not only is “Rhymosaurs” a children’s book series, but it’s also an “educational platform.” Molina organizes family events with MCs, DJs, graffiti artists and dancers, and organizes creative writing workshops.
Many artists are friends who volunteer their time to participate in community events while other times Molina pays DJs and others to participate in paid events.
Molina also spends part of her time teaching the “4 Elements of Hip-Hop” in after-school programs. The four elements are MC, DJ, break-dance and graffiti.
Her upcoming events include teaching graffiti bubble letters, flow and rhyme writing to Elevate Dance Company property of her sister-in-law Edith Sumaquial, from July 25 to July 29. To register, visit: https://www.elevateddancecompany.com/calendar
He also has a book tour and will be in Galt on August 6 and in Oakland on August 13. For upcoming events and information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/Rhymosaurs/
Molina has two children, daughter Sultana and son Leo, who will soon be 3 years old. His daughter raps and freestyles during story time on the mic with him at events.
“My children, they are my inspiration,” Molina said. “They are everything to me and they make me want to do this for the rest of the kids in the community because I know if they like it the other kids will love it.”
The rhymosaur book series can be found at these local stores:
- Caterpillar Children’s Store, 906 N. Yosemite St., Stockton
- Sweet Life Boutique, 2051 Pacific Ave, Stockton
- GingerBugs Lodi, 2 W. Oak St, Lodi
Record reporter Angelaydet Rocha covers community news in Stockton and San Joaquin County. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AngelaydetRocha. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at https://www.recordnet.com/subscribenow.