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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Don’t Let the Dinosaur Drive the Bus

DinosaurOne of my favorite student stories featured a character whose beloved pet was a horribly behaved dinosaur—definitely on the T. rex rather than the Barney end of the dinosaur socialization spectrum. As the conclusion of the story, the character says: “But it doesn’t matter if my dinosaur is naughty all nine days a week. I love him anyway. Because he is my dinosaur.”

I’m moved by what that conclusion says about the unconditional love that young writer was obviously receiving from somebody important to him. But it’s also a great reminder that there are some basic story lines that rarely fail to provide excellent starting points for struggling young writers. Ask a young author, “What pet do you really wish you could have, and can you think of how to turn that into a story?”—and most kids are on a roll.

In fact, the hankering for pets (even those less exotic than a dinosaur) has proved golden for established writers too. From my picture bookshelf alone I can pull out Peter Brown’s Children Make Terrible Pets, Karen Kaufman’s I Wanna Iguana, Cathleen Daly’s Prudence Wants a Pet (at one point poor Prudence has to settle for a branch), and David LaRochelle’s The Best Pet of All.

2 Responses to Don’t Let the Dinosaur Drive the Bus

  1. David LaRochelle May 5, 2018 at 2:03 pm #

    You are so correct, Lisa; kids writing about animals is almost always a sure-fire hit when it comes to writing exercises!

    • Lisa Bullard May 5, 2018 at 6:21 pm #

      David, I wonder if you’ve noticed the same thing I have? For some young writers, writing about animal characters seems to give them permission to explore really tough emotions, since they can assign those emotions to the animals (and presumably, that’s somehow easier than dealing with them as human emotions).

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