Picturebooks · Writing

Catriona Hoy’s The Little Dinosaur

Welcome Catriona and congratulations on another beautiful book.


As a science teacher, did you set out to write a book specifically for schools?


No, like all good writing, you have to start with a story and one that you feel close to or inspires you. I began writing The Little Dinosaur as a result of an interview that I did with Lesley Kool from the Monash Science Centre. She told many fascinating tales of Australian dinosaurs and her work as a fossil preparator. This inspired me to find out more about them and to visit the Dinosaur Dreaming site down at Inverloch. I wanted to write a story that would weave all that together into a readable and enjoyable narrative. So The Little Dinosaur is essentially a story that all dinosaur lovers can get their teeth into.



Are you still hoping that schools will use your book?


I’m hoping everyone will read my book and enjoy it. I like the fact that it’s about Australian dinosaurs and Andrew’s illustrations are amazing. However if I put my reviewers hat on and my teacher’s hat on, I can certainly see the curriculum applications. Looking at the National Curriculum it fits into the Earth and Space sub-strand really well at Year 4, where the look at how the Earth’s surface changes over time. Although it’s a picture book, it can be used at a number of different levels. It’s not anthropomorphic and the illustrations are all scientifically correct and there are lots of interesting facts about Gondwana and polar dinosaurs in the end pages. It would also fit under the Biological Sciences sub-strand at a number of year levels. The requirements, environment, structural features and adaptations of dinosaurs could be compared with today’s animals. It also fits under the strand Science as a Human Endeavour. The second half of the book looks at how a dinosaur is reconstructed based on fossil evidence. There are many people involved in that process, both volunteer and professionals. It’s a book that I hope will be a jumping off point for people to find out more about Australian dinosaurs. If anyone has the chance to visit the Monash Science Centre they have some terrific exhibitions and an interactive play area. The Museum is also a great place to visit.


Do you prefer writing science based books?


I like writing about what intrigues me. I enjoy the research process for science books but I also like to write silly or light-hearted things as well. My next one is about a little girls playing hide and seek with her mother. I had a lot of fun with that one.


Do you feel you have to be an expert to write stories about science?


I think it’s important to do your research and have your facts checked. I did a number of interviews with various people as a starting point and then began my research process. The hardest part was developing the narrative as I had fairly lofty aims. I wanted to tell a story about fossil formation, plate tectonics, fossil discovery and preparation, Australian polar dinosaurs…It did all come together in the end. Of course there’s a little poetic licence here and there but not too much. I then sent the manuscript to Lesley to look at and she was kind enough to point out some errors I’d made. Of course once Andrew Plant, dinosaur drawer extraordinaire, agreed to illustrate, I had an in-built fact checker. I do like my stories to be accurate but I always say I’m a story teller with a science background.


Where do you find your inspiration?


I think it’s important to live life, enjoy it and stories will come to you. The Little Dinosaur was different in that it began as a non-fiction article I was writing for an educational magazine. Most ideas occur as something that I think is funny or interesting. It often takes a long time for a story to come, so it’s good to have a number of ideas gestating at the same time.


Thanks for having me here today Jackie. I’m just back from the SCBWI conference in Sydney where I had a fantastic time and have come back rejuvenated and fired up. It’s been nice talking to you but…it’s school holidays and the natives are restless, lol. Although my year nine daughter tells me I’m too old to use lol and I mustn’t do it anymore. ROFL.


Thank YOU Catriona and I’m so jealous about your SCBWI trip – I know from past experience that the Sydney SCBWI conference (held every two years) is one of the most inspiring conferences to attend and I would recommend that any aspiring children’s author or illustrator put it on their to do list immediately.









The Little Dinosaur
Catriona Hoy & Andrew Plant

In a time before Australia existed, a little dinosaur with big eyes roamed the Antarctic forests, nibbling on cycads and ginkgoes. One day the little dinosaur fell and hurt her leg. She struggled to keep up with her herd. Time passed and the world changed, but the discovery of the little dinosaur’s leg bone millions of years later, meant her life would not be forgotten.

The Little Dinosaur combines dramatic narrative with scientific fact to tell a fascinating, poignant story.

By the team that created the 2011 CBCA Notable Book, Puggle.

ISBN 978 1921504 29 7
250 x 240 mm
HB 32 pp $24.95
Full colour


Picture: Sam Stiglec

Catriona Hoy was born in Scotland and emigrated to Australia with her family at the age of seven. She began her career as a lab technician, but later switched to teaching. She combines writing for children with a job as a part-time secondary science teacher. Her books include The Music Tree, My Granddad Marches on Anzac Day and Daddies and Mummies Are Amazing. She and Andrew have collaborated before on the Working Title Press picture book Puggle, which was a 2011 CBCA Notable Book in the Eve Pownall section and shortlisted for the 2011 Wilderness Society’s Environment Award for Children’s Literature.






Andrew Plant trained as a zoologist at Melbourne University, and works as an author, scientific artist, and a children’s book illustrator specialising in natural history. He has illustrated more than 130 books in Australia, the USA, the UK, New Zealand and South Korea, and has written and illustrated a number of his own titles, including Could a Tyrannosaurus Play Table Tennis? and Finding Dinosaurs. He has also directed, choreographed and designed 60 children’s theatre productions, and created murals for schools and museums.



The Little Dinosaur Blog Tour Dates


Wednesday June 6, 2012

Robyn Opie Parnell


Wednesday June 13, 2012

Sheryl Gwyther

Wednesday June 20, 2012

Tania McCartney

Wednesday June 27, 2012

Sally Odgers

Wednesday July 4, 2012

Jackie Hosking

The Little Dinosaur Launch Dates:

Tasmania Saturday 14th July, 2012
Fullers Bookshop, Launceston





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