Dinosaur in my pocket by Ashleigh Barton and Blithe Fielden

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When James went to the museum with his class, he spied a triceratops on the shelf in the museum shop. James loved dinosaurs and he loved miniatures, so this little dinosaur was just what he wanted to fill a space on his shelf. But he had no money, so when no-one was looking, he put the little model into his pocket. At lunchtime, he found he could not eat his sandwich and on the bus going home, the dinosaur in his pocket seemed to get bigger.

He had to put it into his back pack, and run to his room when he arrived home to hide it in his wardrobe.

But when the family were together they heard a loud noise coming from the bedroom and opening the door found a triceratops as big as the adults. James had to explain. Hie parents did not shout or yell, but instead were very disappointed and they decided that the next day the little toy would be returned to the museum. Overnight it grew even bigger and it just fitted into dad’s truck ready to be take back to the museum.

James had to tell the assistant what he had done, and the dinosaur became smaller.  And James’ guilt was diminished.

This lovely story of problem solving will be taken to heart by the readers. James’ guilt grows just like the dinosaur that he stole, making his guilt feel overwhelming. The solution, to return the stolen toy, cost him his pride, but his guilt was lifted from his shoulders, as the dinosaur shrank.

The story underlines the idea of owning up to things you have done, reassuring the reader that people will not be angry but supportive in solving the problem. Problems that seem overwhelming can be solved when working together, to find a simple solution. Readers will be enchanted by James’ miniature collection, perusing all the detail in the illustrations, poring over the endpapers, and saying the names of his collection out loud, following the words in the book. The problem presented is one which most children will recognise, as they all will have wanted their parents to buy something for them and been disappointed. They will not all have followed James’ example but they will see that his guilt at doing something wrong is palpable and encourage them to see what the right course of actions should have been. Teacher's notes are available.

Themes: Shop lifting, Dishonesty, Miniatures, Parents.

Fran Knight