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The Story Behind the Story of Dinos Don't Meditate


DINOS DON’T MEDITATE

Written by Catherine Bailey

Art by Alex Willmore

Sounds True Kids, 2023

DINOS DON’T MEDITATE by Catherine Bailey is a delightful dinosaur adventure where kids discover the joys of mindfulness and meditation―and how good it can feel to take it slow. Rex was a raucously rough, terrifically tough tyrannosaur. Sam was not. Even so, they had a dino-mite friendship. They did everything together. Well, almost everything.

Thank you for having me on your blog, Lynne. I’m thrilled to share a “behind the book” peek of my latest picture book, DINOS DON’T MEDITATE.

But before I chat about this book, I need to discuss its predecessor, DINOS DON’T DO YOGA. I wrote DINOS DON’T DO YOGA in 2018 when my agent suggested that I write a kids “yoga” book for a new publisher she’d found. As a non-flexible, non-yogi myself, I was a bit stumped. The only time my yoga pants left the drawer was when I wore them to Publix.


That inspired me to write a book based on *not* doing yoga, and I brainstormed characters that would (like myself) stink at it! I quickly landed on a T-Rex because they have tiny arms and a ferocious reputation (like my little readers). It was also an easy choice because T-Rexs’ are my husband’s favorite animal. He actually asked for – and received – a giant mounted T-Rex head for our wedding. We’ve been married for almost 15 years. It’s still hanging on a wall in our home. And he just *might* have bought my daughters and I matching T Rex PJs!

But I needed more than just a fussy T-Rex. So, I added a “new dino on the rock” character named Sam who did like yoga and was super chill. BOOM! Now I had an odd couple, Rex and Sam. The tension between these two opposites provided me with humor, a plot and teaching moments. And it only got better when my illustrator, Alex Willmore, brought them to life. His renderings of Rex – grumpy, annoyed, ridiculous Rex – just tugged at my little writer heartstrings!


Even before DINOS DON’T DO YOGA debuted in 2020, I knew I wanted to write a sequel. I just couldn’t say goodbye to these characters! There was no guarantee that the publisher would buy a follow-up book, but that didn’t stop me.


I started brainstorming more things that Rex and Sam would not agree on. What else would Rex say dinos *didn’t* do? Read books? Paint? Take naps? Eventually I settled on meditation because it seemed so un-Rex like. Rex (like most little kids) just wants to go, go, GO! Even if it can lead to a melt-down. And, spoiler alert, it does.


Once I had a plan, the writing part went very fast. I was able to rough out and polish a draft in about a month. Being able to follow the format, tone, and pacing of the first book helped tremendously. I had a road map! The hardest part of this stage was fine-tuning the characters’ dialogue, which rhymes. Choosing clever words, staying on meter, and working in a “lesson learned” was no easy task!


I showed my agent the manuscript and she loved it. She passed it along to the editors at Sounds True and they loved it. DINOS DON’T MEDITATE officially sold in March 2021 and here I am, two years later, celebrating its book birthday!


And for those of you looking for some more detail, here are a few other things I did to help get these books out into the world…


  • Research various kinds of dinosaurs, and which ones were alive at the same time

  • Watch all the Jurassic Park movies

  • Read about different kinds of yoga poses and programs

  • Buy hot pink yoga pants to wear to Publix

  • Get multiple critiques at different stages of the writing process

  • Study other picture books about yoga, and dinosaurs

  • Watch all the Jurassic Park movies again

  • Review my publisher’s catalog to avoid duplicating topics

  • Try out various meditative techniques on my kids

  • Stare at the giant mounted T Rex head in our living room

Hopefully there are some insights and inspiration in here to help you write your book!


Warmly,

Catherine the Authorsaurus

BIO: Catherine Bailey is an award-winning children’s author and youth presenter from sunny Florida. Her recent books include HARBOR BOUND (Disney/Hyperion, 2019), HUSTLE, BUSTLE BUGS (LLBYR, 2022), DINOS DON’T DO YOGA (2020), DINOS DON’T MEDITATE (Sounds True, 2023) and the forthcoming GOODNIGHT SCHOOL (Union Square, 2024). She has also written for popular children’s magazines such as Highlight’s Hello and Babybug. She is a frequent children’s speaker and has visited with hundreds (and hundreds, and hundreds!) of kids at schools, libraries, stores, and special events.

When Catherine is not writing, or editing, or swatting at mosquitos, she looks after her husband and two children. All three of them are quite sticky, and none like bedtime, but she loves them anyway. Her prior job titles include Lawyer, Sailboat Deckhand, and Cartoon Network Intern. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, and snacking. But mostly reading.

Learn more about Catherine and her work at www.catherinebaileybooks.com.



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