It’s almost a rule of the childhood that you need to have a fascination with dinosaurs. For some reason, little ones love a T-Rex, usually fuelled by a school project and a visit to their local museum.
The very first toy we bought for Baby Bookworm, when he was still in the womb and we didn’t know whether he was male or female, was actually a knitted red triceratops rattle.
If you have a budding paleontologist at home, they will no doubt adore the new Dinosaur Adventures series from Miles Kelly, a set of four books with each one focussing on a different dino character.
These are the first original picture books from the independent British publisher and have been written by its very own senior editor, Fran Bromage, with artwork by four different illustrators – Chris Jevons, Louise Forshaw, Tom Heard and Richard Watson.
To celebrate their publication, we spoke to Fran about turning writer, breaking stereotypes and which dinosaur is the best…
These are the first original picture books produced by Miles Kelly – were you nervous about creating them?
Yes, very! But we have a great team here, so I knew we could make some amazing original fiction together. Miles Kelly is hugely supportive of new concepts, but I expected to propose lots of different ideas before we dived in. I did feel the pressure to come up with some really different, unique storylines. However, the directors loved the story plots I suggested pretty much immediately, so I probably put more pressure on myself than they did!
Why did you choose dinosaurs as theme?
This wasn’t just a decision I made on my own. We have team meetings and research days to explore the types of books to go on our production list for the year. Dinosaurs are a continuing favourite and fascination for this age group, but we discussed many different themes too.
Did you have to do a lot of research on the topic?
My son, who’s seven now, has loved dinosaurs since he was tiny, so I already knew a fair bit about them. We’ve also done enough non-fiction dinosaur books here for us all to know some really random facts. Our publishing director is an amazing font of all dinosaur knowledge too.
Did you learn anything surprising about dinosaurs while making the books?
Triceratops had up to 800 teeth – how amazing is that?!
It’s reassuring to see that Dora, the star of Diplodocus, is a female dinosaur. Was that a conscious decision to ensure there was a gender balance?
Yes, it was. In each of my books there’s a planned gender balance and Miles Kelly is always trying to ensure we break away from stereotypes. Why shouldn’t some of the dinosaurs be female? After all, without female dinosaurs there wouldn’t have been any dinosaurs!
What’s your favourite dinosaur?
Parasaurolopus – because I love how the name sounds when you say it. My son and I always get the giggles when Granny tries to pronounce it and I love that scientists believe they were really raucous! Look out for Piper in the T rex story – do you think Piper is a boisterous boy dinosaur or a noisy girl?
Dinosaur Adventures by Fran Bromage are out now. Four titles are available: TRex (The Big Scare), Diplodocus (The Dippy Idea), Velociraptor (The Speedy Tale) and Ankylosaurus (The Clumsy Club). £5.99 each, available for £4 a book from mileskelly.net
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