The Dirty Great Dinosaur by Martin Waddell is a picture book about a boy called Hal and his dog Billy, who meet a dinosaur in their back garden one day. The dinosaur roars up and demands to eat them. Hal is not having any of it, and proceeds to teach the dinosaur a lesson.
This is a very simple book which is mostly just a funny romp which works on the premise of what would happen if a very small child weren’t actually terrified of a dirty great dinosaur and instead of the dinosaur chasing the boy around, the boy chased the dinosaur around until the dinosaur had no option but to give in.
The dinosaur, clearly a T-Rex, is obviously as dumb as a sack of hammers, and behaves in this story much like the traditional stupid wolf, who wants to eat the chicken/girl/animal etc, but is outwitted by the thing he is supposed to be eating.
The illustrations by Leonie Lord are really what make this work. We particularly liked the bit where Billy the dog is convinced it’s all going to go horribly wrong and lies down with his paws over his eyes waiting to be devoured.
This book would be a perfect addition to a project on dinosaurs, or any topic in which you wanted to depict a child turning the tables and turning a traditional tale into one in which the child takes charge and suddenly the story arc flips. There are quite a lot of stories like this in the genre of modern fairy tales, and this would sit nicely alongside those kind of narratives.
The story is suitable for boys and girls aged 2-6.