Excerpted from Tyrannosaurus Math by Michelle Markel. Copyright © 2009 by Michelle Markel. Excerpted by permission of Tricycle Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
1.What was your inspiration for writing this book?
No one I know enjoys word problems. It’s hard to get excited about determining how many squares of fabric you can cut from a certain length of cloth, or how long the shadow of a flagpole will be at 3 o’clock. Who cares? On the other hand, everyone loves a story with a scary bad guy. Why a Tyrannosaurus? I’ve always been a fan of T-Rex and harbored a secret desire to write a story about him. I can’t help myself. He’s a ferocious carnivore, but that oversized toppling head and those stubby arms are ridiculous, and endearing. Scary dinosaur + fun word problems = Tyrannosaurus Math
2.Who is your favorite author?
William Steig. Love the poetic language, love the wit, love the villains (a dapper fox who likes to eat mice with a dry white wine?) and the sweet messages…not to mention the charming illustrations. I worship at his altar.
3.Do you have any unusual or special family traditions?
When my family (I have two daughters in college) visits my parents, we play Beyond Balderdash. It’s a game where you have to make up your own loglines for movies, definitions for weird words, and names of organizations that go with acronyms. If the other players guess your phony answers, you get a point. I play to win, but it’s just as fun to lose…and be fooled by my kids or my 86 year old parents.
4.What was your favorite book when you were a child?
Madeline. Plucky character, fun rhymes, luminous illustrations. Madeline made such an impression on me that I became a French major in college and studied abroad in France. I remember one night looking up at a gorgeous sunset over the Champs Elysees and thinking, this is just like out of Madeline. That’s the power of children’s books.
5.If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
I’ve always felt an affinity with lizards. We both like to lounge around in the sun. I’d love to be all muscle, and sinuous, and have a cool diamond shape pattern on my skin. Plus if my tail were injured, I could regenerate a new one. That’s a superpower, animal-wise. It would be fun to dart. I generally don’t move that swiftly. The only downside would be eating crickets or other bugs,which give me the creeps. Yecch.