The kids’ bookshelves are jammed with gorgeously illustrated, lovingly gifted books. Some of the ones that are most requested and best ‘value’ are those we buy on sale in the big bins at the back of the shop. Tyrannosaurus Drip (written by Julia “The Gruffalo” Donaldson and illustrated by David Roberts) is one of these. I probably ask to have it as often as the children do, and both of them (aged 5 and 2.5) are fans of the book. The book is about a baby duckbill dinosaur who ends up in the wrong nest, and realises just how out of place he is as a pacifist plant-eater among war-mongering carnivores. Being rejected from his ‘family’, however, gives him the freedom to find his real home. One of the reasons I picked this book up in the first place was because of Roberts’ illustrations. They’re wonderful drawings, infused with witty details and expressions; the colours are strikingly bright. I loved the Tyrannosaurus family’s nasty red sharpness contrasted with the duckbills’ soothing green whorls. Donaldson’s writing offers the usual high standard of rhythm and fun.
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
Out hatched Babies One and Two,
as perfect as can be,
But Mother T was horrified by Baby Number Three.
And she grumbled, “He looks weedy,”
and she grumbled, “He looks weak.”
And she grumbled, “What long arms – and look, his mouth is like a beak!”
“He just needs feeding up,” said Dad
and gave the babes some meat.
The first two gulped and guzzled
but the third refused to eat.
And he said, “I’m really sorry,”
and he said, “I really can’t.”
And he said, “This meat looks horrible. I’d rather eat a plant.”
Donaldson is the Children’s Laureate for 2011-2013 (Quentin Blake, another one of my favourites, was the first Children’s Laureate in 1999-2001). If you, like me, had no idea there was a Children’s Laureate, you’ll want to know that they “[receive] a bursary of £15,000 and a specially designed and inscribed silver medal”. Along with much adoration and many library bookings over their term, I’m sure.
We’re a household that has The Gruffalo as a book, DVD, and we went to see the live show at Gasworks Park last year (which was excellent fun).
This book doesn’t seem to get as much exposure as the others in Donaldson’s stable (like the Gruffalo stories), which is a pity. It’s one of our family’s staunch favourites, along with another bargain bin book that involved counting with (Egyptian) mummies…but more on that one another time.