Book: Jurassic Rat (2019)
Author: Eleanor Ann Peterson
Illustrator: John Seckman
Genre: Picture Book, Dinosaurs, Rats
Opening lines from the book …
Long ago in dinosaur times, there lived a rat as big as a cat.
MY REVIEW …
I don’t know a child who’s NOT fascinated by dinosaur times. Come to think of it, I’d say most adults are pretty fascinated too! In this story, we’re introduced to a rat dad who has a big family to feed. But when you live in the Jurassic era, well, there are lots of dangers. Did I mention … DINOSAURS?!
I found the information about rats (as big as cats!) very interesting. I’m rather glad the rats of today aren’t quite so big. And generally, I’m fine with rats as long as they stay out of the house or the garden. (Unless they’re a pet, of course. I once met a very lovely rat named Stockings who was a pet. Her owner (a young girl) was very keen to let me know how smart rats are and how they do make wonderful pets. After meeting Stockings, I’m very much in agreement.)
The illustrations by John Seckman are really quite delightful. And I love all the thumps and whumps and the ploppidy plops that accompany Rat on his mission to try to feed his family and evade some hungry predators.
Would definitely recommend it to anybody interested in dinosaur times.
INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR …
I was able to interview the author, Eleanor Ann Peterson. (Spoiler! There’s a BOOK GIVEAWAY at the end of the interview.)
Q: Hi Eleanor. First off, please tell me a little about yourself.
A: I’m originally from Ottawa, Canada, but after meeting the love of my life in Three-Rivers, Quebec, we married and moved to Italy. There I worked in a family-run bakery, computer shop, and lastly, in a machining shop with my hubby and son. My eldest daughter lives in Toronto.
I enjoyed creative writing when I was in school and kept it up when I left. Writing is an outlet for me to get thoughts out and make use of them. To improve my craft, I took writing courses and attended SCBWI conferences. Besides writing, I enjoy painting, photography, playing with clay, sports, and going for long walks in the wilderness.
Q: What’s the best part about writing for children?
A: The best part about writing for children is that anything is possible. The most incredible and bizarre can happen to your characters. I like to use the “what if” question. Like, “What if cows could fly?” I like to tell stories that come from a different angle or are based on real-life experiences. Teachers always told me to write what I know, what I want, and not what’s popular.
Q: You mentioned to me a story about your first book presentation. Tell me about that.
A: Oh goodness! After the book came out, life happened, and I couldn’t market my book the way I had planned. Then things got sorted out, and I was determined to present my main character, Rat, to the world. I contacted my local library, and the librarian was enthusiastic about my book presentation. I showed her my puppet of Rat and later sent her a clip of my bilingual (English/Italian) presentation which I filmed and edited with Movavi video editor. She was thrilled to have me. The event was published in various local newspapers. I was so excited. I prepared props and activities for the occasion. It was carnival season, so I had a dinosaur suit I would wear during the presentation on February 24th, 2020. A few days before the presentation, COVID-19 broke out, and we were all on lockdown. The event was canceled ‘til further notice. *Sigh!*
Q: Where did you get the idea for this book?
A: The idea for Jurassic Rat came while I researched how to remove roof rats from my old rambling house without poisoning them. I tried to talk them into moving elsewhere, but that didn’t work. In the end, my cats convinced them.
While surfing the web, I came upon an article of a fantastic discovery in Spain and China about an unearthed rat belonging to the Jurassic Period. Bingo! I had a story. Having studied the evolution process during my university studies, I thought, why not introduce young readers to the evolution of species in a fun way. I bet you didn’t know that the rat’s ancestors roamed the Earth alongside dinosaurs.
Q: Did this book need a lot of research? If so, what kind of research did you do?
A: As in any concept book, you need to get things right. Facts count even in picture books. I researched other fossilized rats found on different continents and tried to reach out to the scientists who wrote the articles but to no avail. I sent my research links to my publisher and editor, and they checked if the information was accurate. I also had the opportunity to collaborate with the illustrator, John Seckman. He also had to research which animals and plants lived in that period. I.e. T-Rex dinos did not yet exist in the Jurassic period. There are links in the backmatter for further reference.
Q: If you could visit the Jurassic Period for one hour, what would you want to do there?
A: Ride a sauropod while searching and documenting flora and fauna unknown to man in our era. I’d probably get eaten by a dinosaur while examining an insect.
Q: This book is about a rat dad on a food mission. What’s the most dangerous/exciting “food mission” you’ve ever been on?
A: The most dangerous was when I went fishing with my nephew in Canada. We didn’t catch anything other than mosquito bites and almost tipped the boat. I prefer veggies to meat. Therefore, the most exciting mission is clutching my basket and hiking stick and taking a walk in the wilderness searching for medicinal herbs for tea and edible plants and mushrooms for my omelets.
Q: What’s your favourite dinosaur joke? (Feel free to do rat joke instead, if you like.)
A: Q. Why don’t you see dinosaurs at Easter? A. Because they are eggs-tinct.
Q. What kind of rat can tell you what 6.022 x 10^23 means? A. Mole rats.
Q: Where can people find out more about you and your books?
A: You’ll find out all about me on my website: https://elenaorannpeterson.com You don’t need to subscribe or give me your email address. All you have to do is click follow, and you’ll get my latest blog posts in your inbox. (Sorry, I still haven’t figured out how to set up MailChimp newsletters yet. But it’s on my to-do list.)
Connect with Eleanor on:
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/eleanorannpeterson/
Facebook personal: https://www.facebook.com/eleanor.a.peterson
*Chance to Win* a copy of the picture book: JURASSIC RAT by Eleanor Ann Peterson
Eleanor Ann Peterson is offering a free copy of this book for a giveaway, and YOU just might be the lucky winner. Open to entries from around the world!
You can win an additional entry by liking and commenting on this blog post!
Contest ends May 23, 2021 (9pm ET)