Padma learns that the flatland where their cows grazed was not just any ordinary flatland. It was home to dinosaurs that lived in India 65 million years ago. It gets more interesting for the young girl when she meets Rock Uncle, a palaeontologist, who reveals many secrets about their hometown, Rahioli. Soon, she sets off on an adventure with her grandmother Labhuben, Rock Uncle and a dinosaur called Bluethingosaurus. The central character in Mumbai-based writer Vaishali Shroff’s latest book, The Adventure of Padma and the Blue Dinosaur, Bluethingosaurus is the fictional descendant of dinosaurs that had once walked in India, such as Rajasaurus and Kotasaurus. She read from the book at the children’s literature festival, Bookaroo, in Delhi, earlier this month.
“It took one dinosaur-crazy kid in my house to make me fall in love with them. It’s intriguing to know about creatures that existed more than 250 million years ago. While stories about fossils are fascinating, they also tell us a lot about evolution, extinction and climatic changes,” says Shroff.
In December 2016, Shroff was on a road trip with her family in Gujarat, when they came across the Dinosaur Fossil Park in Rahioli. “It was an overwhelming experience to see fossils, including dinosaur eggs, lying about in the world’s largest natural exhibit of dinosaur remains,” she says. A few months later, HarperCollins called Shroff to check if she’d be interested in doing a book on Indian dinosaurs. The writer is still surprised at the coincidence.
Another writer, who brought to life the extinct creatures at the festival, was Singaporean Andy Chua. His series, Fossil Finders (Bubbly Books), features Samuel and Anna, who are on a museum excursion to see dinosaur fossils, when a magical collision in time awakens Norus, guardian of the exhibits. He asks the two kids to go back in time to retrieve an ammonite and an allosaurus tooth. “Understanding dinosaurs is not only about learning about these reptiles but also about science, math and engineering. Dinosaurs give us insights into another worlds,” says the writer, who is also a fossil collector, and the founding members of Singapore Fossils Collector. He has about 450 of them — dinosaurs bones, teeth, crabs, lobsters, fish. He also works as a 3D artist in classified projects for the government and the army. Chua says that the fourth book in the series will be released next month.