Trygg The Dinosaur
Trygg the Dinosaur
by Paula Louise Salvador
Middle Grade Fiction,YA
Two young dinosaurs from opposite sides of the floodplain bump into each other by chance. He’s a small meat-eater, and she’s a big plant-eater. They’ve got no parents, no food, no friends. They’re supposed to be enemies, but they decide to stick together instead. It’s not easy. When she gets caught with him, she ends up banished from her herd. He faces a huge rival who could stomp him out with one back foot. They have to outsmart a gang of bullies with sharp teeth and long, curved claws. And they struggle to survive the natural disasters of drought, mudslides and a bubbling tar pit. Worst of all, when they lose contact with each other, they fear betrayal. What if their friendship has been broken?
His hard work had tired him out, so he sat down in the nest. He was about to fall asleep when he felt the island tremble slightly. It was enough to cause one of the other eggs to slip toward him. He put his mouth around the egg’s pointed end, making sure the sharp tips of his teeth didn’t break through the shell. Then he gently settled it back in the damp ground at his feet. But why was his nest moving like that?
Using his tail for balance, he eased up and peeked over the top of the nest. A rush of cold air hit him in the face just as cawing broke out in the trees overhead. Flocks of birds darted from branch to branch, making loud warning calls. And the ground started to shake so much that he struggled to stay standing.
At the edge of the island, a group of animals leapt out of the shallows. At first, he thought that they were like the birds above him, except they looked too big to be able to fly. Besides, they moved by running with their heads stuck out in front of them. Instead of wings, they had long arms and hands with three fingers—and they had claws.
They were just like him.
The pack swarmed past. A reddish-brown one at the end skidded to a stop. He towered over the nest, and slobber dribbled from his small pointed teeth. “Hey, little Troödon!” he called out, but when he got no reaction, he shook his head in frustration. “I’m talkin’ to YOU!” he said with a growl. “You see any other Troödons alive in that ring of dirt?” The dinosaur glanced nervously over his shoulder. “You’re gonna have to move fast, kid,” he shouted, then he turned to flee.
“Mudslide comin’ through!”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paula Louise Salvador has had great adventures as a documentary film maker and writer. The scariest was when she stood under the ribs of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton – in the dark! The most fun was filming dinosaur dig-sites from a helicopter. On the dangerous side, she had to dodge alligators in Mississippi – and keep all fingers and toes out of the water.
Paula has met fascinating people, particularly jazz legend Oscar Peterson and composer Philip Glass, who performed in her show on electronic music.
In “BUILD GREEN” for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “THE NATURE OF THINGS”, Paula and Dr. David Suzuki visited rock star Randy Bachman’s super sustainable house. (He played his guitar for us.)
Finally, it was a tiny dinosaur that captured Paula’s heart. For her documentary “DINOSAUR BABIES The North American Story”, Paula held the fossilized egg of a little Troödon. He was curled up inside, just about to hatch. (His leg bones looked like a chicken’s.) That’s where Paula’s story of Trygg begins.
Paula has a Masters in French Literature from l’Université de Provence, France and a Bachelor of Arts (including Children’s Literature) from McGill University, Canada.
Q&A With The Author
When did you first consider yourself to be a writer?
I’ve always loved writing. And I’ve always fussed over which words were the best to use, and when. This was especially true when I lived in France and had to express myself in French (and try to sound like a local.)
What advice do you have for a new writer?
Ask for advice, take writing courses, listen to criticism, and get feedback from your target audience, at all stages of your draft. (Kids are very honest, so be prepared for the no-holds-barred truth!)
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
Putting words in the mouths of my (animal) characters. Somehow, they sound like old childhood friends of mine.
What is your favorite part of this story?
I still get a laugh out of the “scatalogical” scene (that means that “poo” is involved.) Certainly if you’ve ever walked through a cow pasture, you can imagine what a vast plain that was home to thousands of duckbill dinosaurs would have been covered with. Today, scientists study fossilized dinosaur poo, known as “coprolites”. They are a valuable source of information about what the animal’s last meal was.
Which Character was the most fun to write about? Why?
I love the funky little Alphadon mammal (sort of like the opossums that we have today.) She’s small, but she has the courage to wiggle her whiskers right in Trygg the meat-eater’s face. Then she plays dead in the hopes that he won’t eat her. Great actress!
Which Character was the hardest to write about? Why?
Lady Elspeth is the leader of the huge herd of duckbill dinosaurs. She’s bossy, and tough, and a bit snooty, but my young readers have to care about her. They have to realize that Elspeth would do anything to protect the Hypacrosaur duckbills from all the threats of these ancient times. Her final test is to save her son, Horatio. Her sacrifice still brings tears to my eyes when I re-read that chapter, but I worked hard to write just enough subtle details so that I would not overpower my readers.
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