Everything I Needed to Know I learned From ‘Danny and the Dinosaur’

Many of us have that favorite children’s book we remember fondly from our childhood. Who can forget the sheer poetic brilliance of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham, for example (during my attempts to learn the Spanish language I was very proud to teach myself the phrase, “Te gusta huevos verdes y jamon?”), and Where the Wild Things Are will always be a perennial favorite amongst people of Generation X as well.  My own kids likely remember Another Monster at the End of this Book, which was a sequel to The Monster at the End of this Book, a book I also enjoyed as a child. My version of the book featured Grover the Muppet from Sesame Street fame and the one my kids enjoyed starred both Grover and Elmo. I suspect they liked it so much because I tended to read it to them with very animated character voices for the lead Muppets. They’re in their twentys now, I wonder if they’d still appreciate that quite as much.

For me the book I will always remember fondly from my childhood is Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff. If you’re not familiar with it, Danny and the Dinosaur tells a delightful story about a boy named Danny (duh) who encounters a live dinosaur during a trip to the museum. Danny and the dinosaur decide to spend the day playing together (I can remeber having this book as young as about five or six years old, so I’m sure that the concept of the dinosaur and the boy having a conversation didn’t phase me at all) and they exit the museum with Danny riding on the dinosaur’s neck.

Danny and his new huge reptillian friend share an exciting day together in which the dinosaur mistakes a building for a rock, the pair plays hide and seek with a group of children, and they even attend a baseball game together and go to the zoo. The dinosaur becomes a bit of a celebrity (as a live, talking dinosaur most certainly would draw quite a crowd in the real world) as literally hundreds of people leave the zoo to follow Danny and his dinosaur friend.

I must have read that book a hundred times over as a kid. I remember it being in my possession for years. As it was an “I Can Read” title, that’s no inpressive feat. The book had a lot of illustrations and large type, but I loved it and it remains one of my earliest and fondest memories from childhood.

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