Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 29 Sep 2023

Have You Seen Dinosaur? by David Barrow

In the wonderful world of storybooks nobody bats an eyelid at the sight of a cumbersome elephant following a small boy across a zebra crossing in a big city. The softly coloured cover also shows a dinosaur’s head arching above them beside the title that asks the question ’Have you seen Dinosaur?’ 

This immediately drew the attention of my two young grandsons who exclaimed ‘Why can’t they just look up and see it there?’ Indeed this is trick of the whole story which keeps the reader onside and ‘in the know’ which is always a successful device.

We loved the way in which this author illustrator kept surprising us with the dinosaur hiding in plain sight. The initial exasperation turned into laugh-out-loud moments which made sharing this book very enjoyable.

The easy camaraderie between the boy, his dog and the elephant is evident from the first page as they sit eating breakfast together. They are responding to an alarming newspaper headline that reports a dinosaur being spotted. They soon set out enthusiastically without any bothersome adults to constrain their adventure. We particularly liked the double page spread which shows them mistaking two massive green legs for the pillars in front of the museum. As my five year old grandson pointed out, ‘they must need glasses’ and the seven year old added ‘surely they can feel the difference between the legs and the building?’

We laughed at how the dinosaur manages to blend into any environment above and below the ground. My favourite example is how he is clearly visible outside the underground train window, but all the other passengers are more concerned with the space taken up by the elephant. There is the all too familiar crossness apparent on the adults faces whilst the unlikely trio gaze smilingly ahead out at us.

Another page that we lingered over was the exciting skatepark where everyone is unknowingly using the dinosaurs’ body as a skating surface. There is so much to talk about in every detailed scene and few words are necessary to explain what is going on. Here we noticed that a pigeon was having fun riding along in a roller skate! Hang on: was that the same bird that we spotted on a previous page flying down to the street? We had to find out of course by recapping and then realised that he featured on all the pages after his first appearance.

At last the characters notice what they have been missing all along and realise that ‘you have to be very observant’. We enjoyed looking at all the other dinosaurs that were not that well camouflaged on the last pages. All the other people in the city seemed to be completely oblivious to the splendid creatures all around them. Sometimes observant children who take their time to explore and appreciate the world around them notice much more than many adults.

I strongly recommend this beautifully illustrated picture book published by Gecko Press which should be available from your local independent bookshop. They will be glad to order it for you if they do not have copies on the shelf.


Karen Argent

September 2023