If the Dinosaurs Came Back

Kids aren't as stupid as they look, or at least I wasn't. I never let the fact that if the dinosaurs came back we'd all be screwed undermine the enjoyment I took from If the Dinosaurs Came Back by Bernard Most, a book I read upwards of a thousand times in those early years. I don't ever remember thinking that if the dinosaurs came back, they'd be plowing our fields, transporting us over traffic, giving us water rides at the beach, or putting out fires in tall buildings.

And I certainly disputed the idea that T-Rexes would be more interested in chomping down trees rather than chomping down lumberjacks. I still think it's plausible they could be used to scare away robbers though, "scare" being an understatement. But none of that mattered to me much, for all the reasons that make kids dumb: there were funny pictures.

But what was this book about? It was about a little boy who dares to dream, as most of us do. To dream that if the dinosaurs came back, they would be our friends and let us use their long necks as bridges and their teeth as lawn mowers. In other words, he dared to be pretty dumb about dinosaurs. But why did I enjoy this book? There were funny illustrations of dinosaurs, with all the little details that you only notice when you can't really read the words, like how the lumberjack is holing up a giant log with one hand, or how the swimmer is struggling to get out of the way of the giant dinosaur at the beach, or how one of the skiers looks like he's about to fly right off the dinosaur's snow-covered back! Whoa!

Funny illustrations were all I needed. Even funnier were my own illustrations, where I too dared to dream, about the dinosaurs terrorizing humanity and giving us a lot of dino-fertilizer (like in Jurassic Park). I was either a brilliant satirist, or really was as dumb as I looked. But maybe that was the point. This book made kids think hypothetically at a time when all we were thinking was "dinosaurs!"

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