Harcourt had just rejected Four & Twenty Dinosaurs in 1988. But my editor, Diane D'Andrade (new at Harcourt) loved the title and wondered if I had any ideas about combining dinosaurs with numbers.
I remembered reading about the different sizes of the dinosaurs, some of them tiny, many of them about the size of a cat.
The Littlest Dinosaur captured my imagination. My opening spread: "Everyone thinks about the biggest dinosaurs, but what about the littlest dinosaurs?"
I will never forget a visit to a California school. They took me outside to their playground which was on a hill. They had chalked an outline of a brontosaurus and the children were measuring it, just like my opening spread. They brought my book to life! What a thrill.
In the book I compare the sizes of the smaller dinosaurs with things a child is familiar with: a refrigerator-sized dinosaur nick-named "egg thief" is stealing eggs from the refrigerator. On another page, I feature a dinosaur about five feet long, small enough to fit into your bathtub, taking a bath.
This was my first book where I had a pronunciation guide in the text, on the same page, making it easier to read the dinosaur's name. I dedicated The Littlest Dinosaur to my family for putting up with me while I measured everything around our house including the kitchen sink.
I still get lots of letters from teachers who have used this book in their classrooms who think I made up these dinosaurs. But I didn't. They were real dinosaurs, and I even include a bibliography showing where I got my factual information.
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