We are delighted to welcome author Pooja Puri to the blog today.
Pooja’s new book, A Dinosaur Ate My Sister is her debut middle grade novel and the first book selected for the Marcus Rashford Book Club. Pooja stopped by the BooksForTopics blog today to tell us about the book, about writing about time travel for children and about how the story came to be selected for the Marcus Rashford Book Club…
Pooja Puri, author of A Dinosaur Ate My Sister (available here)
Can you tell us how the idea for A Dinosaur Ate My Sister came about? I’ve always loved the idea of time travel. I think there is a SPINGLY kind of magic in the thought of adventuring across all of time and space. I’d been juggling a few different ideas for a time travel story, but none of them really felt right until, one afternoon, whilst staring out the window, a question flew into my head: what if you accidentally sent someone through time? And what if that someone just so happened to be your ANNOYING big sister?
PZZZINNG! It was one of those rare and wonderful brain-sparks that a writer hopes for! With lightning-fast speed appeared Esha Verma, genius inventor extraordinaire, her fretful apprentice, Broccoli (along with his tortoise Archibald), her weather-obsessed big sister, Nishi, and the righteous Secondus Secondi, New Officer of Time.
We’ve heard the book described as ‘the perfect blend of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Jurassic Park.’ Did either of these books inspire you as a writer – and which other books have had the most influence on your work?
That’s a great question! One of my favourite films is Jurassic Park which inspired some of the prehistoric elements of the book. I’ve always enjoyed reading fantasy adventures, particularly those which play with, and twist, our understanding of the everyday and familiar; there are too many to name here, but Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines and Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl are two which instantly spring to mind.
Time travel seems like a fascinating and mind-blowing subject to write about! If you had your own time machine, which period of time would you like to visit?
Like Broccoli, I would love to visit the Cretaceous Age and see a dinosaur for real – perhaps questionably so, as I’d almost definitely get eaten! I’d also quite like to visit the future to find out if we’ve managed to invent flying cars…
How did you research the prehistoric elements of the story? Lots and lots of reading! Perhaps unsurprisingly, the dinosaur gallery in the Natural History Museum is one of my favourite places to visit, but sadly this wasn’t possible whilst I was writing due to Covid restrictions. In terms of researching and building the prehistoric landscape of the Cretaceous Age, I started off with the ‘bigger’ aspects of the world before working up some of the ‘smaller’ elements and finding ways I could throw my own creative twist on this fascinating world.
Why do you think dinosaurs fascinate so many of us – and do you have a favourite type? I think it’s incredible to think that we now live in a world that was once inhabited by these magnificent creatures. Personally, I’ve always been fascinated by their sheer size. You just have to look at a dinosaur fossil to wonder at their awesome strength; there’s something almost mythical about dinosaurs and the legacy they have left behind.
Absolutely – my top three favourite dinosaurs are: the T-Rex, the Brachiosaurus and the Stegosaurus.
Can you tell us about the Marcus Rashford book club, and how your story came to be included as the first book selected? I’m incredibly proud that A Dinosaur Ate My Sister is the first book to be selected for the Marcus Rashford Book Club. The book club is a reader-recommends programme, designed to encourage and nurture a love of reading in children. Together with the children’s food charity Magic Breakfast and Macmillan Children’s Books, the book club will be donating 50,000 free books through the charity, reaching children in over 850 primary schools across England and Scotland. It’s a fantastic way to get books to young readers and I’m very excited to hear what they think of the story. The story came to be included purely by chance; after I signed with Macmillan Children’s Books, it was pitched for the Marcus Rashford book club. I still remember when I got the phone call to tell me the book had been selected – it was, and still remains, a very surreal moment!
If you were a genius inventor like Esha, which new invention would you love to see come to life? I would love to be able to teleport – imagine how amazing it would be if we could zap ourselves to places whenever we wanted! In terms of Esha’s inventions, I think an Extend-a-Hand would be infinitely useful.
Finally, can we expect more adventures from Esha and if so, can you give us any clues about what’s next in store? Definitely! I’m currently working on the sequel to A Dinosaur Ate My Sister. I can’t give away too many clues at this stage, but I’m hoping to make it even more bonkers and funnier than the first (and no, I’m not going to tell you if there are any dinosaurs!).
> Order A Dinosaur Ate My Sister on BookShop.Org
> Order A Dinosaur Ate My Sister on Amazon
> Read about the Marcus Rashford Bookclub
Many thanks to Pooja for visiting our blog and answering our questions. For more about the book, check out the other stops on the blog tour, too.
Where next? > Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub
> Browse our Topic Booklists
> View our printable year group booklists.
> See our Books of the Month.