ISBN 978-0-140-55260-7. “Dinosaurs and all that Rubbish” was written and illustrated by Michael Foreman. This 28 page large format paperback was first published by Puffin Books in 1972 and it looks as if it has been in continual reprint ever since. In a world where there are so few good ‘environmental’ books for the very young child this book is a shining exception. It is delightfully simple and manages to bring dinosaurs into a story about mankind’s folly. Now, hands up, which one of you kids doesn’t like dinosaurs? Heah? Perfect. Genius. This book is 38 years old. Thirty-eight years old! It is an official classic but it looks like it could have been written yesterday. It comes from an era so very early in the evolution of the environmental movement. Maybe a more naive time. Probably the perfect time to write simple children’s stories. The magic of this one is that it manages to keep it simple and imaginative without repeating any dumb clichés. The story goes like this: a man dreams of a single star. He wants to go there but no matter how high he climbs in the trees he cannot reach it. So he decides to turn all his industrial might to building a spaceship for the journey. To build the rocket the man must cut down all the trees, dig up all the coal and burn anything that comes to hand. So the factories pour out smoke, fumes and rubbish. The land is ruined but the man gets his spaceship and takes off. He gets to that distant star but finds there is no life there. No grass. No trees. No flowers….
… But there is another far-off star in the black sky. So the man decides to go and visit THAT star next. Meanwhile, back on Earth, the smouldering ruins awaken the sleeping dinosaurs. The dinosaurs go “pooh” at the smell and decide to clear up the mess that men had made. As the rubbish was cleared all the green plants started to grow again as the man-made world yielded to blossoms – and vanished beneath greenery. The man lands back on the Earth, but he doesn’t know where he is. He finds a paradise and is delighted. He says it is HIS paradise. One of the dinosaurs stops to point out that although they have the same size brain, the dinosaur has a bigger heart and so would never have destroyed paradise as man had done. The man realises he is back on Earth. He realises the dinosaur is right and ask if he can have a small part of the Earth back. The dinosaur says “no” because the Earth belongs to everyone. Then they head off into the sunset for a happy ending with man and all the dinosaurs happy at their new arrangement. You don’t get much better than this. The words are simple and the illustrations big and simple. The story is simplicity itself it just makes you wonder why you didn’t think of it first. Kids will enjoy it without even realising that the message is an environmental one. For kids this is obvious too. It is only us grown-ups who need to be reminded of the fact that we share one precious resource.