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Derek the Knitting Dinosaur


by Mary Blackwood
Illustrated by Kerry Argent

If the thought of dinosaurs bring to mind fearsome, awe-inspiring creatures, think again! Author Mary Blackwood and illustrator Kerry Argent team up to tell the tale of Derek, a dinosaur who is not fearsome, but nice! 


Derek the dinosaur, who is "little and green," bemoans the fact that he has no "back full of scales and . . . mouth full of roar." Atypical for dinosaurs, what Derek likes best is "sitting and knitting." Derek longs to be like his brothers, Fearless and Fang.


Derek not only likes knitting, he has a passion for it. Over the years, he has knitted so many dinosaur suits, "warm woollen boots and mittens and tracksuits" that there is barely room for Derek in his snug stone house. While Derek knits, however, the climate is slowly changing. The ice age is coming!


Shivering with cold, Fearless and Fang pay Derek a visit. Derek warms them with tea and outfits both brothers with surplus scarves, sweaters, and blankets until the duo are toasty warm. After he has thawed out, Fang finds that he is glad "'that dear little Derek would rather just sit, and go knittety knittety knittety knit!'"


Blackwood and Argent work together to portray Derek, "little and green" – Derek fills only one-fourth of a double-page spread. The reader sees Derek's mirrored back – a back not full of scales. The reader also sees Derek pushing on the door of his house, trying to squeeze into a house that is nearly filled to overflowing with knitted garments and blankets. There's one oversight here: Blackwood describes the house as stone, while the house in this illustration looks like more of a stucco style, with palm trees in the background. A subsequent picture shows the house with stone and mortar lines.


Blackwood's rhyming text adds interest and motion to the tale. She cleverly drops the rhyme as she describes the world outside Derek's house becoming colder – adding a disharmonious, ominous note. Argent, meanwhile, understatedly fills one-quarter of this double-page spread with a flying pterodactyl that is getting pelted with snow.


While the ending of this picture book is perhaps a bit predictable, the affirming nature of the tale, coupled with inviting illustrations, makes for good reading!


Blackwood, Mary. 1990. Derek the knitting dinosaur. Illustrated by Kerry Argent. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda. Originally published in Adelaide, Australia (Omnibus, 1987). ISBN 0-87614-400-8.

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