As well as chart topping musicians, Dougie Poynter and Tom Fletcher have proved themselves to be bestselling children's book authors too. The pair, who are two-thirds of pop-rock band McFly, sat down with Junior to chat about the third book in their series, The Dinosaur That Pooped The Past. They explained their fascination with dinosaurs, pooping and why it's essential to promote literacy and reading in children from a young age.
What inspired you to write the third instalment of The Dinosaur That Pooped series?
T – The other two books – The Dinosaur That Pooped a Planet and The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas – are about things that we think are really cool, Christmas and space. And now this one covers time travel.
How did you come up with the story?
T – Normally we come up with the title first and then we just try to work out a way of getting there.
D – It’s always very collaborative.
T – It’s the same as when we write songs. It’s actually been a pretty natural crossover from writing songs to writing children’s books. I think that’s why we found the process so easy and enjoyable, plus it gives us an opportunity to write about poop!
Why do you think the word is ‘poop’ funny to say, no matter what your age is?
T – There’s no language barrier with poop jokes, it’s universally funny. If you’re in the middle of China and you make a fart noise, someone will laugh.
D – Poop is a universal language.
If you could back to any time period in the past, when would you choose?
T – I would go back to the prehistoric age and bring back a dinosaur.
Did you have any ideas or input as to how the dinosaurs look in the book?
T – Yes! We sent our illustrator Garry Parsons references as to what kind of dinosaurs they should be. The main dinosaur of the story is a very friendly T-Rex that has the personality of a dog. He doesn’t talk, but he kind of gets the gist of what’s going on. He’s basically our McFly bandmate Danny.
What were your favourite books to read when you were little?
T – Mine were the Dr Seuss books. My parents used to read them to me when I was little and even now they’ve stayed with me and have been a huge inspiration for this series. They are the ultimate in nonsense poetry.
Why do you think it’s important to promote literacy and reading in children from a young age?
T – I think reading inspires creativity and expands the imagination. I see it in my 5-month-old son Buzz. I read to him, show him the pictures and make funny noises and you can see him really engaging in something. I remember when my dad used to read to me and after he finished the story he would ask me questions and pretend the book was alive and could respond. It was really cool and I think part of the reason I like doing creative stuff is because I was read stories as a kid and they would come to life in my imagination.
Do you read to Buzz often?
T – Yes me and my wife Giovanna try to make it a nightly thing. It’s part of his evening routine...when he’s not having a meltdown.
On that note, how’s fatherhood treating you?
T – It’s really really good. It’s amazing. There’s a lot of poop though, sometimes it’s slightly green.
What’s the most surprising thing about being a dad?
T – All of the clichés are so bang on! It’s the most life-changing thing you’ll ever do. All your priorities change and you suddenly realise that’s what life is about. It’s incredible and it just keeps getting better and better as they start smiling, laughing and learning how to communicate. The other day I literally watched him learn how to pick something up – he was in his highchair and leant forward to grab his toy, but he missed and knocked it, then he tried again and managed to get it the second time. Then he put it down and managed to do it quicker a third time. And now he can pick little things up fairly easily. It's incredible and fascinating to watch.
Do you dress him in the mornings?
T – I love getting him dressed! It’s so cool. Although I don’t think my wife likes it when I dress him because I put him in all sorts of little outfits. I was actually shopping online for him last night and bought loads of cool t-shirts, including a Kermit one – he loves The Muppets. And of course a jacket covered in dinosaurs...
The Dinosaur That Pooped the Past by Tom Fletcher & Dougie Poynter is out to buy now