May 11, 2022

Birth Stories for Books: HOW TO DRESS A DINOSAUR, by Robin Currie

Hello readers! It's time to pull back the layers on another path to publication story in today's edition of Birth Stories for Books. Today's guest is Robin Currie, author of HOW TO DRESS A DINOSAUR (illustrated by Alycia Pace, Familius, March, 2022.)

by Robin Currie and Alycia Pace

Dawn Prochovnic: Welcome to the blog, Robin. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the path to publication for your darling new board book, HOW TO DRESS A DINOSAUR.  

In an earlier interview, you described this as a book for mothers with a child who resists clothes (and I see in your online bio that your family includes four grown children and five grandchildren.) I’d love to hear how the idea for this story came to be. Lived experience, by any chance? 

Image Source: Robin Currie

Robin Currie: Both my son and grandson are crazy smart about dinosaurs – able to correct my pronunciation of “Archaeopteryx” before they can say “spaghetti” clearly. They both owned dinosaur shirts, socks, underwear, hats and about 5K tiny plastic dino toys. Don’t step on the Triceratops in the dark! 

DP: Ha! 

I’d also like to hear more about the process and timeframe between your initial idea for the book and the manuscript that was formulated fully enough to submit to an editor. You’ve indicated that you participate in many different online challenges including ReFoReMo, Storystorm, and 12 X 12, so I’d be especially interested in if/how one or more of these challenges played a role in the process.

RC: I came up with the idea during a Storystorm event in 2016, refined it with my amazing local critique group, got two different reviews on Rate Your Story, tested my pitch in the 12x12 forum, and celebrated my Cover Reveal on Vivian Kirkfield’s blog. I belong to a fantastic international launch group, Picture Book PALS.  

DP: Wow! What an excellent example of the wonderful village that is kidlit.

When you compare one of your earliest drafts of this story to the version in the published book, what stands out for you in terms of what is most different? Likewise, is there anything in particular that stands out that was included in your earliest drafts and survived the revision process?

RC: The first draft was a brain burble of a badly rhyming text – what rhymes with Diplodocus? (Hopped aboard a bus? Was oozing green pus? Super-flu-i-us?).  Forget Pterodactyl. Leaving lots of room for illustrations (in only 12 chewable pages) makes every word count.

DP: Sometimes all it takes is some oozing brain burbles to get the creative juices flowing! 

When you compare the path to publication for this book to the paths to publication for some of the many other children’s books you have published, what are some of the key similarities and differences in terms of the publication journeys for each? (I’d be especially interested in hearing about how the path to publication for HOW TO DRESS A DINOSAUR compares to the path to publication for your book, THE VERY BEST STORY EVER TOLD: THE GOSPEL WITH AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE, (published by Beaming Books), as I have a series of books (published by ABDO) that likewise reinforces key words with American Sign Language.) 

RC: Both publishers (Beaming Books and Familius) have excellent editors. For VERY BEST STORY I was able to be in the schools and bookstores, live at Christian conferences. Since DINO is still an essentially COVID-era launch, it has been much more important to build platform and be visible online. VERY BEST STORY won several awards in the Christian market. I will submit to very different groups for DINO.

DP: As you've noted, DINO launched during the middle of (a still ongoing!) pandemic. What have you found to be the most effective and meaningful way(s) to connect with young readers and book buyers during this challenging time?

Image Source: Robin Currie 

RC: I was pretty disappointed I could not be in a bookstore on March 1. I did share DINO in the preschool where I am chaplain, wear my new dino themed outfit. We were outside in 40-degree weather and all wearing coats and masks. However, I will hold a FUN LAUNCH for National Dinosaur Day, May 14, sharing the stage with a blow up dinosaur who will attempt to put on a shirt!

DP: Well that DOES sound fun! 

Speaking of which, one of my favorite parts of being an author is connecting with young readers at school, library, and bookstore visits, and I’m always looking for new pro tips. I understand you work in children’s ministries, and you have worked as a professional librarian. Based on this wealth of experience working with young learners, what professional advice or suggestions do you have for fellow author/presenters in terms of planning successful (in-person and/or remote) book events?

RC: Librarians and teachers are looking for what is of value to the children. They are not really interested in selling book copies but are happy to sponsor a Guest Author Reading. Come up with simple craft activity or snack to go with it. I have a Pinterest board with some ideas to get you started. 

DP: That's a great board, Robin. Although I tend to get a bit overwhelmed by Pinterest as a user, I do enjoy the process of putting together boards for some of my books (Pirate / Cowgirl / Lucy's Blooms) as a resource for my readers. 

Taking a quick stroll through your website and social media feeds, it is clear you are engaged in many different activities and experiences to boost children’s literacy, including volunteering annually to teach reading to children in developing countries. How do you balance the time between your writing life and the different aspects of the publishing business alongside an active work and home life?

Image Source: Robin Currie

RC: I have been blessed to work with preschool children in libraries and churches for my entire career, so each day is loaded with possible storylines! Children ages 1-5 are very much the same in Tanzania or Thailand. So, it is happy circle of life and writing.

DP: That's a lovely observation! 

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your pre-published self? Or, said another way, what do you know now, that you wished you would have known a bit earlier?

RC: Platform, platform, platform! I published my first board book in 1993! Now the writing process is only the beginning. What is most fun is engaging beyond the pages of the books with readers and kids.

DP: I couldn't agree more! 

Is there something you would like to say about HOW TO DRESS A DINOSAUR that you haven’t had the opportunity to share yet? 

RC: Alycia Pace illustrated this book. I love the hair on the dinosaurs and the way Mom becomes progressively less patient. Finally, even MOM says, “because I said so” and gets the T-rex look! The last page shows the sweet love that transcends trying children and lost patience. I hope that is encouraging to parents everywhere!

DP: The illustrations are darling! And I do think the sweet love in your book will be encouraging to parents everywhere. 

Do you have anything you’d like to tell us about what you’re currently working on? 

RC: I always have 10-12 pieces in the works in various stages of writing, review, testing and pitching. Currently I am thinking about a grandparent in hospice story for kids, a good day/bad day book on Noah, and a rhymed St Patrick’s Day lark.

DP: I look forward to following the journey on these books, too.

Thanks so much for sharing your Birth Story for HOW TO DRESS A DINOSAUR with us, Robin!

Friends, the best way to thank an author whose insights have been helpful and/or inspiring to you is to support their work. Buy their books. Request them from your library. Read and share them with others. HOW TO DRESS A DINOSAUR is available everywhere books are borrowed and sold.  


Image Source: Robin Currie
Robin Currie volunteers annually to teach reading and literacy in developing countries. She is Pastor Associate at St. Luke Lutheran in Glen Ellyn, IL, Priest Associate at Trinity Episcopal in Wheaton, IL, and Children's Chaplain at St. Mark's Episcopal in Glen Ellyn, IL. She reads to Headstart children weekly and has worked as a world-wide volunteer, teaching English in far-flung places such as China, Tanzania, and India. Her family includes 4 grown children and 5 grandchildren. And she writes stories to read and read again! 


Birth Stories for Books is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the author of multiple picture books including, Lucy's Blooms, Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?, and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud, and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at  

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