While cleaning my condo one day, I discovered something that I’ve carried with me since I was about four-years-old. Tucked away in a cupboard filled with odds-and-ends that I don’t have use for at the moment but can’t bear to part with, such as an unopened Holga camera and a Fitbit that taunts my guilty conscious, sat one of the first books that my parents bought me. With the title “Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals”, the content is pretty self-explanatory but it turned out to be so much more than just words on paper to my kinder self.
From the time I saw it on the bookshelf of Woolco, I was mesmerized. What were these majestic creatures on the cover? Were they monsters? Were they some form of dragon (and, if so, where was the princess that would inevitably need to be saved from them)? I wanted to learn more. My mind was blown when my father explained that they actually once inhabited the very same planet we lived on. As a child, it was almost too much to process (and apparently still is for a number of religious zealots). He explained how they lived and evolved, and theorized on their demise. From that point on, I became obsessed. The toys in my room were increasingly taken over by stuffed triceratops and scale-model T-Rexes. My father noted this and took me on a dig at Dinosaur Provincial Park and to visit the Royal Tyrell Museum of Palaeontology, both in Western Canada, which I try to still visit once a year.
Other than my name written on the inside front cover, the book is in really great condition considering how old it is and how much I would have referenced it growing up. Opening its pages today takes me back to sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom, light pink walls and grey mottled carpet, as I soaked in every detail of the illustrations. The intricacies of the beast’s scaly skin, the ombre colour of the cretaceous landscapes … the book welcomed me into new worlds of which I would regularly visit in my mind and began my journey of being an unabashed bookworm. The price sticker for the book is still present. Just four dollars and ninety-five cents. A minuscule investment into a child’s imagination that has spawned decades of learning, wonder and enjoyment.
I don’t think I will ever get rid of this book. I don’t think I could. I have a bond with it that might seem silly, but it is my “Rosebud”. A thether to a simpler time and to a young girl that I never want to lose touch with.