Aaaaaaaaaaaaagh! Dinosaurs!

★★★★
kids review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Aaaaaaaaaaaaagh! Dinosaurs!
Published 07 Aug 2016

"There's a lot of cool shiiiiii-ps" inside, poet Dominic Berry tells the snaking line of children, in a carefully judged piece of parent-baiting silliness. He's not wrong. The inside of the Hispaniola is decked out with skeletons in cages and piratical paraphernalia. But the magic of Berry's performance is such that he doesn't need any of that gubbins to take children's attention spans prisoner, and hold them tight until the end of his story.

The ingredients are a kind of joyful hotchpotch of everything kids go wild for: wizards, dragons and, yes, dinosaurs. A young troll girl has to save her village from a rampaging horde of the Jurassic terrors after a spell gets out of hand. Quite a few of the kids are firmly Team Dinosaur, heckling Berry with cries of "Spinosaur!" or "T-Rex!". He delights in these audience contributions, acknowledging each one. And when it's time to defeat the dinos, he builds on the kids' suggestions to make rhyming incantations. Poetry is magic.

Berry is astonishingly energetic, leaping on chairs and through the aisles to make sure his verbal wizardry reaches every corner of the room. The packed ranks of grown-up sized seats make his job harder – rows of cushions at the front would let smaller kids see every bit of the action. But the loud call-outs and sea of raised hands speak of an audience that's hanging on to his every rhyme. And it's cool words, not cool shit, that are keeping them there.