This happy little chap has just taken delivery of his very own copy of Penny Dale’s glorious new book, DINOSAUR ZOOM!, the much-awaited follow-up to DINOSAUR DIG!, whose sales have now topped 80,000 copies internationally.
DINOSAUR ZOOM! joins our pre-historic friends as they race cross-country in their vehicles (a splendid array, from pick-up trucks to tractors) to a leafy glade in the woods. The gang hurriedly unpack picnic tables, hang bunting and blow up balloons, then hide themselves in a hedge to await the arrival of the littlest dinosaur in his yellow convertible. Of course, a wonderful surprise party ensues and the littlest dinosaur is treated to food, presents and the biggest dinosaur cake you’ve ever seen.
The great thing about all Penny’s books is that they are born out of her careful observation of children, and in particular children at play. When Penny’s daughter was small, she created titles like Rosie’s Babies, Bet You Can’t and Ten in a Bed, which beautifully capture little moments of childhood, and resonate with both parents and children. Twenty or so years on, and Penny is now watching and listening to her small grandson play with his toys – a very different experience indeed, she says. The result has been DINOSAUR DIG! and now, DINOSAUR ZOOM!: two books that absolutely know who their audience is, and give them what they want to read about.
Dinah Hall, writing in last Sunday’s Telegraph recognised this, saying: ‘Little boys love dinosaurs. Little boys love trucks. Put the two together in the worryingly appealing Dinosaur Zoom! and you have the recipe for a night-time battle over bedtime stories. Resign yourself to reading the same book over and over again for the next two years – and make sure it’s a girl next time.’
Nicholas Tucker chose it as one of the Independent’s best new books for under-12s, writing: ‘Penny Dale has a new slant on ever-popular prehistoric animals in her picture book Dinosaur Zoom! Whether driving a blue convertible through the desert or reversing a lorry into the woods, these dinosaurs practically leap from the page.’
Finally, Kate Kellaway selected it as one of her top summer reads in The Guardian, saying, ‘This book is strictly for the dinosaur-besotted… but Penny Dale has taken the ingenious decision to go the whole hog – or brontosaurus – here by combining outrageous dinosaurs with assorted heavy goods vehicles, sports cars, tractors and the like. For the prehistoric speed freak, this is a roaring delight in which dino drivers head full throttle towards a little dinosaur’s birthday party.’
It’s great review coverage – a testimony to Penny’s beady eye, sharp ear and creative imagination. Penny is now working on a third title in the series, DINOSAUR RESCUE! The rough illustrations are finished already, and I am happy to report that it is going to be as fast, furious and fun as its predecessors.