We didn’t go to the cinema much when we were kids.
Firstly, it was expensive – there were four of us after all. Secondly, it was hard work – like venturing out with a litter of wolf cubs; complete with howling, scratching and occasional furniture chewing. Thirdly, it was totally embarrassing when the usher busted us with our BYO snacks. Mum used to make us wait until the lights dimmed. Then on the count of three, she’d cough to muffle the sound of us tearing open our contraband crisp packets. It worked about one in every three attempts. When it didn’t, the humourless usher would shine his flashlight right up into our guilty faces.
The one time Mum did spring for a big cinema outing – snacks and all – was in 1993 when ‘Jurassic Park’ came out. It was one of those defining childhood moments – but for all the wrong reasons. The four of us were under 13; Emma was barely 6. So when the T-Rex gobbled that bloke off the toilet… we just started screaming. At one point my little bro Brett (seven at the time) begged me to hold his hand. A story I delight in regaling at every one of Bretty’s Birthdays.
Despite the brief PTSD, ‘Jurassic Park’ only fuelled our dino obsession. In fact it’s a near-universal rule that kids the world over LOVE DINOSAURS. They can reel off seriously impressive details, from when they lived to the pronunciation of their scientific names. And it’s one of the reasons why dinosaur books continue to do so well with kids of all ages. The latest dino tale to land on my desk is The Wondrous Dinosaurium– a debut picture book for writer John Condon and book 15 for illustrator Steve Brown.
The Wondrous Dinosaurium is like Dear Zoo meets Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium’
The idea’s a simple one – Danny wants a pet. But not just any pet… a giant Jurassic one. Luckily Mr Ree’s the purveyor of prehistoric pets at the local Dinosaurium, wedged on the High Street between the light shop and the locksmith. Mr Ree soon sorts Danny out with a car squashingly big Diplodocus Longus, a drooly T-Rex, a flightly pterodon and the list goes on. None are quite right, but Danny and Mr Ree eventually get on the same page delivering a delightfully satisfying ending for little dino devotees.
John’s packed loads into a wonderfully short text – great suspense and fun dialogue. And Steve’s illustrations are fantastically good fun – with loads of humour for the kids.