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TITLE: Why Aren’t Dinosaurs in the Zoo?
By TJ Nickel
04/17/08
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A former challenge entry I'm trying to adapt to a children's book. I know certain things need to change in the beginning and end, but it is the italicized story in the middle about the ark that I'm most interested in feedback on.

My own 4 yr old liked it a lot twice, then had a hard time hearing about the dinosaurs not making it, yet still loved the discovered eggs at the end. Any ideas for change?
She climbed into bed and grabbed her stuffed Stegosaurus. She started to sing the song from its voice,
“…I’m a funny looking dinosaur. On my back are many bony plates…”*
and then silence engulfed her deep stare into Steggie’s black, glass eyes.

“Daddy?”

It being a question keyed me into her sadness.

“Yes, sweetie.”

“How come there’s dinosaurs in the museum, but not in the zoo?”

“Well, because dinosaurs aren’t around anymore.”

“You mean they’re all dead.”

That it wasn’t a question keyed me into truths beyond my years, or rather that my years had hidden me from.

“Why did all the dinosaurs die?”

“Well, scoot over and I’ll tell you the story,” I said as I crawled under her covers with her. She nestled deep into her pillow and held onto my arm, unsure if this story would heal her wound, or add years of baggage to wade her into a sleep.

….

Long after Adam and Eve, the people had all turned their backs on God. In His grief, God picked out one man named Noah, and told him to build a huge ark to save his family and the animals from a great rainstorm.

Noah began building the ark and all the people in the city wondered what he was doing. When he told them, they laughed and were very mean to Noah. The teasing became much worse when…all of a sudden animals began showing up in Noah’s yard. They stayed in the front and Noah and his family built the ark in the back, near the hill that fell into the valley. There were all kinds of bugs that showed up on the first day and the people were all laughing and thought God had cursed Noah by putting nasty bugs all over his land. Then, the land animals showed up and again the people laughed at the rhinos, lions, bears and all the others resting on his property. A stench began to fill the air and the people began saying horrible things about Noah. His family was sad, but they kept working on the ark. Then, the birds showed up and made homes in all of Noah’s trees – two of every kind, just like it says in the Bible.

It started to rain.

The rain fell down for two straight days while Noah and his family finished up the ark. Working in the rain wasn’t easy, but they kept at it. The rain caused the valley behind the ark to fill with water and two of every kind of animal in the water showed up and made their way onto the ark. Finally, the dinosaurs arrived at Noah’s land.

At this same time, the people began to fear the rain and wondered if Noah was right about the great storm that God had promised would come. On the third day, as their homes were flooding, the people made their way to Noah’s property and gathered in the knee-deeps waters. There, they saw all the animals making their way from the front of the land toward the ark. Scared, they decided to try kicking the animals off the ark so that they could be on it. They rushed onto Noah’s land.

The dinosaurs turned to protect the ark from the people. The ark began to float away and the dinosaurs were left behind. One dinosaur with a huge mouth jumped and bit a hole into the back of the ark. But, he couldn’t hold on and so he swam back to the others.

It rained for over a month and then the rain turned to snow, the water to ice, and finally the ark came to rest high up in a mountain. Noah and the animals all left the ark and when the weather allowed, they made their way down the mountain where it would be warmer. They were all sad that the dinosaurs didn’t make it onto the ark. They died with all the people.

In all their sadness, nobody noticed the collection of eggs left in the ark where the one dinosaur had bitten into the back. He bit into it to drop off dinosaur eggs. Those eggs are frozen somewhere high in a mountain, just waiting for the ice to melt so that they can hatch.

….


The smile she wore rained forty days upon my spirit. As her eyes closed to relive this story time and again, mine gave silent thanks for new life, her life, and His Story.

*****
*Popular children’s song, author unknown.
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