Researching the imaginary world of children and dinosaurs
It was when my grandson, read his sisters’ personalised books, and asked, ‘Where’s mine?’ It made me feel guilty, although I had made a start in May 2014, when visiting my family in Australia. His sisters’ books were first created in February and March 2002 as birthday presents, when the girls were two and six respectively, based on their imaginary friends; ‘My Friend, the Copy-Cat,’ and ‘A Very Close Friend.’
Now, the little boy’s enquiry had spurred me to write and illustrate a book for his forthcoming sixth birthday on the fourth of June. With this deadline in mind, I entered into his dinosaur world. It was great fun, absorbing myself in telling the story from his point of view.
He has so many books on dinosaurs. ‘Bumpus Jumpus Dinosaurumpus,’ ‘Crunch Munch Dinosaur Lunch,’ ‘ Dinosaurs love Underpants,’ ‘ Stomp, Chomp, Big Roars,’ ‘Here Come The Dinosaurs,’ and ‘The Big book of Big Dinosaurs,’ which are a few that come to mind. There are dinosaur-toys in the living room, the conservatory, the kitchen, bath and the bedroom, all over both his home and his grandparents’ too!
Engrossed in documentaries and educational programmes on television, the six-year old has gained a lot of information on dinosaurs. Even in a class of keen dinosaur enthusiasts, his teacher had asked his mother, ‘How many dinosaur toys does your son have?’ Every week, he had brought in a different dinosaur figure for ‘Show and Tell.’
I had to research and combine this with the imagination of how his world must be, and to portray his surroundings, especially as the accompanying drawings were to be recognised at first glance, without further explanation.
For example, based on an iconic figure pointing his right hand at a right angle, while holding a shepherd’s staff with the left, I could depict his step-dad, Andrew, as Saint Andrew albeit as a dinosaur, wearing the St. Andrew’s flag – a white cross against a blue background.
Day and night, I worked on this project until I was dreaming of dinosaurs and even began to see everyone I encountered shaped in dinosaur figures, outlined in line drawings brought to life in watercolour.
I followed my muse in writing and illustrating, as it flowed and have enjoyed it immensely. It was rewarding to see everyone else across the ages, enjoy the finished project as much as I did.
I have included a page of my illustration describing how grandson-dinosaur often gets together with his grandparents to eat trees, which they call ‘broccoli.’