Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs!
Anymore, it seems as if most kids go through a dinosaur phase. I don’t recall it being that way in my day. Certainly, my teachers thought that my obsession with the “terrible lizards” was unusual enough that they once had me visit the next higher grade to blather on about Styracosaurus and Parasaurolophus.
My fascination was all-consuming. I constantly checked out books about dinosaurs from the library, and carefully learned the spelling and pronunciation of the major species. (Though I mistakenly believed that the Cretaceous Period was the “Creature-ous.”) I dragged my folks to fossil beds and dinosaur statues throughout the western United States. And, of course, I never passed up a chance to watch TV shows about my favorite monsters.
I eagerly awaited WGN-TV’s annual screening of the live-action serial Journey to the Beginning of Time, actually a Czech film named Cesta do Pravěku that had been re-dubbed and cut into segments for U.S. syndication. It was about four boys who set out on a raft down a river that mysteriously flowed backwards through time, and it was surprisingly educational for kids’ TV of the time.
Nowadays, dinos are everywhere, not just in the fictional theme park attractions of Isla Nublar. And since 2009, PBS Kids has been offering daily adventures in the world of Dinosaur Train. This computer-animated series from the Jim Henson Company features a family of Pteranodons (not actually dinosaurs, but whatevs) and their adopted juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex, Buddy. Like those Czech kids on the raft, these younglings travel throughout the Mesozoic Era learning about prehistoric creatures.
And when I watch these programs or see the inevitable toys, I am stunned by the things kids are learning these days. Oh sure, I was all about Triceratops and Stegosaurus, but Euoplocephalus? Cretoxyrhina? Oryctodromeus? Cryolophosaurus? I had it easy.
Man, I wish five-year-old me had been able to watch Dinosaur Train. Though I fear it would’ve made me (even more) insufferable.