Canadian Author · Picture Book

Multi-Purpose Dinos: If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur

Have you ever wondered what dinosaurs would be used for if they were still around? Canadian author and illustrator duo Linda Bailey and Colin Jack have created a whimsical book addressing that very question!

“Say there, Reader… do you happen to have a dinosaur just lying around your living room? Eating you out of house and home? Well, what are you going to DO with it? Put it to work of course. From lawn mowers to kites, babysitters to umbrellas, this handy-dandy book explores the many ways you can put your dinosaur to use. Yes, the possibilities are amazing! But BEWARE: there are some things your dino will NOT be good for at all…” – If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur, 2014

biblio basics

  • If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur  by Linda Bailey and Colin Jack 
  • Publisher: Tundra Books (division of Random House Canada), 2014
  • Format & Genre: Picture Book , Fantasy
  • Age Range: 2-8 years old
  • Themes: “what if”, animal care
  • Source: Purchased copy

I absolutely loved this book! As a kid I loved dinosaurs, and I loved the Flintstones. My favourite part of any Flintstones episode was when the house hold appliances, often times begrudged wooly mammoths and sassy prehistoric birds, would complain about their jobs. This book brought me right back to those Saturday mornings imagining what it would be like if dinosaurs and humans lived together.

The bright, colourful illustrations draw you into this whimsical story which suggests some very interesting ways we might use dinosaurs today. Colin Jack has created clean, simple images which marry with the text perfectly. Although the images are simple with foreground only, Jack adds details that are so cute and imaginative. My favourite illustration is of the centrosaurus-esque dinosaur doing double duty as a snow plow, complete with oven mitts to ensure his horns don’t get frostbite.

If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur, 2014

This charming book is filled with laughs for the whole family. The vocabulary in the book is simple and accessible to children as young as 2, but still enjoyable for older children (and parents as well!). The hilarious situations these dinosaurs get themselves in are brilliantly illustrated, making it enjoyable for readers and non-readers alike. The text is also easy enough that school aged children could read it to their younger siblings.

This book is great for your dino-crazy kid, and you could even make a game of seeing who can name all the dinosaur species present in the book. And even if your kid is not big into dinos, the jovial faces of these adorable illustrations will have have your littles in stitches. There is also a beautiful message at the end of the book that if you take care of your dino, it will stick around for a long time, promoting positive pet ownership no matter what your pet is! I recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a good laugh to share with their children.

biblio activities 

Here are some fun dino-themed activities to keep your little ones talking about this book!

  • “If I had a dinosaur…” – Have your children write or draw what they would do if they had a dinosaur. Prompt them with questions like “What kind of dinosaur would you want? What would you do with your dinosaur? Where would it live? How would you feed it?”. You’ll be surprised what they come up with!
  • Dino Origami – With your older children, origami is a great way to build concentration and fine motor skills. Watch a youtube video together like this one from Japanzor and make a dinosaur small enough to take with you!
  • Dino Day Trip – If you are lucky enough, you will have a museum close by which has dinosaur fossils you can go view. As you go through the museum, ask your children “What would this dinosaur be good at? What do you think it would not be good at?”. If you do not have a dino museum nearby, take a “virtual field trip” like this one offered by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. 
  • Movie Night – Have a dinosaur themed movie night! Choose a movie like The Land Before Time (1988), Dinosaur (2000) or The Good Dinosaur (2015), and make snacks like dino-fruits (cut melons using dinosaur shaped cookie cutters) and fossil cookies (use plastic dinosaur toys to make imprints in sugar cookies).

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