My Dearest Dinosaur, by Margaret Wild and Donna Rawlins

My dearest Dinosaur,
Such news! The egss have hatched and we have seven little ones.
I wish you could see the wriggly, tiggly rascals. But where are you?
We are here. Here!

As a mother dinosaur begins the journey into new motherhood, she must also cope with the absence of her mate, who has disappeared whilst off looking for a safer place to live. As she raises her youngsters, she keeps her partner informed of their progress and shares her longing for his return.

Whilst the text is written as if a diary or letters to the absent father, the illustrations, by the talented Donna Rawlins, show mother and babies that are not anthropomorphised, allowing the reader to know that there is no letter or diary. Instead, Wild is giving us an interpretation of the dinosaur’s emotions, allowing readers to connect in a way that would be unlikely with a non-fiction explanation or a thrid-person telling of the tale.

Through both word and illustration, young readers are offered an insight into the daily life of the dinosaurs and of the terrain of the times, with forests, rivers, swamps and plains all depicted. The topic of extinction is also touched on, with the dinosaur mother dreaming of the start of the ice age.

This is not a cheery bedtime tale – the dinosaur babies grow up and leave the mother alone, still searching for her mate – but it is not overly maudlin either. It is most likely to appeal to young dinosaur fans in the early school years and would be a useful classroom resource, both for the dinosaur theme and as an example of a story through letters.

First published in 1992, My Dearest Dinosaur has been rereleased in paperback format.

My Dearest Dinosaur, by Margaret Wild and Donna Rawlins
Scholastic, first published 1992, this version 2005