Tyrannosaurus Drip

   As our third to be named a Blueberry BookTyrannosaurus Drip is a brilliant tale written by Julia Donaldson about a tenderhearted, yet fearless, duckbill dinosaur trying to find his place after being born into a stark, harsh world. 
   Dinosaur books, movies, and toys are guaranteed crowd-pleasers.  Parents, grandparents, and children alike can all relate to the mystery and the magesty associated with the time of the dinosaurs.  Over the past few years, we have acquired numerous dinosaur DVDs, figurines, puzzles, puppets, and stuffed animals.  We even threw a "Dino-mite!" birthday party for Little Girl a few years ago.  Not since The Land Before Time has anything prehistoric captured the attention of my children quite like Tyrannosaurus Drip!

The Story

   While still in his egg, the sweet little duckbill dinosaur is snatched from his mother's nest on the marshy side of the river.  The thief scuttles and swims with the egg in tote across the river.  Suddenly, she accidentally drops it on her way back to her nest.  You would think a mother Tyrannosaurus Rex would notice that an extra egg had just rolled into her nest but, as Donaldson explains, "Now the mother T had great big jaws and great enormous legs, but her brain was rather little and she couldn't count her eggs."

   The eggs hatch to reveal three unlikely siblings, confused at first glance.  Instead of being absorbed into the cradle of his mother's arms, he is instantly berated and chastised for his smaller stature and trumpet of a beak.  The father T-Rex chimes in to redirect:

"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 simply can't."
And he said, "This meat looks horrible.  I'd rather eat a plant."

   Our prehistoric version of the ugly duckling didn't stop there as he proceeded to rebel against the entire lifestyle of the Tyrannosaurus Rex family.   The world of the carnivorous T-Rex is a hollow, shriveled land of bones and thorns, of war and gloom.  He didn't agree with their need for war, hunting, and meat.  After his sisters bullied and labeled him "Tyrannosaurus Drip," his family left him behind on the next hunting trip.  Then and there he decided to set out on a journey of deviation and self-discovery.  Not only did he uncover the true meaning of family, home, self-worth, comfort, and fulfillment, but he also took action against the T-Rex family and proved "he's not such a drip after all- in fact, he's a real hero!"

The Storytellers

   Julia Donaldson's writing is every parent's dream because it is easy to read aloud on the first try!  There is a beautiful rhythm to the book that isn't forced or contrived.  The language is so natural and free-flowing that even the word, "Tyrannosauruses," which appears to be a sure stumble, trails right off the tongue without effort.  I was so entertained and engrossed in Tyrannosaurus Drip's struggle and spunk, that I didn't even notice the possibility of a hidden political agenda until halfway through.  Although, I should mention my husband majored in political science, which means I've been hearing how everyone has an agenda for eight plus years.  Despite the distinct aversion to a carnivorous diet (I am a meat-eater, also known to vegans as a "meathead") and its corresponding philosophy of war (I am a U.S. citizen- enough said), I was rooting for our adorable, veg-loving friend to triumph and shake that barren, predatory lifestyle of the "grisly, mean, and grim" Tyrannosauruses. 

   Before becoming the author of over 165 books for children (including the award-winning, top-selling The Gruffalo which was turned into a successful movie), Donaldson grew up in London.  She was a very imaginative child, always writing plays and choreographing ballets for herself and her sister.  After meeting her guitar-playing husband while studying Drama and French at Bristol University, they started to write songs together.  The songs "led to a career in singing and songwriting, mainly for children’s television," as she states on her website.  "I became an expert at writing to order on such subjects as guinea pigs, window-cleaning and horrible smells. 'We want a song about throwing crumpled-up wrapping paper into the bin' was a typical request from the BBC."  One of her television songs was made into a book in 1993.  From there, she has become published as both an author and a playwright and has most recently been the chosen Children's Laureate in the UK.

   As delightful as Donaldson's writing is, without  David Roberts's crisp and edgy drawings gracing every page, it's just another dinosaur book.  The bewitching curves of the ferns in the swamp and the sharpness of the spiky bones and thorns in the ravaged forest transported me.  His artistry is fresh and colorful and provoking, yet remains clear.  Since Roberts has always loved to draw, he studied pottery and fashion design at Manchester Metropolitan University.  Afterwards, as it states on his website, "he worked as a milliner and began to get work as a fashion illustrator but always felt his true calling was in children’s book illustration.  He signed up with Christine Isteed at Artist Partners in 1995 and has never looked back since."

artwork by David Roberts

The Review

   Between Donaldson's expert cadence and Roberts's gleaming yet daring illustrations, we are hooked.  Tyrannosaurus Drip easily earned a 5 out of 5 blueberries!

   It is recommended for Kindergarten-3rd grade, but my daughters are younger (and I'm older) than that and we all enjoy it!  Buy it here in the US or here in the UK.

   Luckily, the fun doesn't stop there!  The activity book available is 16 pages packed with games and puzzles, colouring-in, join-the-dots, word puzzles and more. It even includes a sticker scene and over 40 reusable stickers so you can have fun creating your own stories again and again! 

The Classroom

   Teachers, there are several resources for you if want to share this book with your class including cross-curricular activities, a Read and Respond, and a lesson plan!   For fantastic printables, click here (choose activities and scroll down about halfway) and enjoy hours of fun with the Tyrannosaurus Drip Hunt-the-Egg Game, Cut-Out-and-Play Dinosaurs, and a colouring sheet!

Thanks for stopping by!

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