Well, I can't really mean nobody, we have the intertubes now and "nobody" means, oh, dozens minimally, maybe hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands; as opposed to everybody, which means something on the scale, perhaps, of the twenty-five million kulture vultures following Justin Bieber's tweets as of last week.
The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek on Goodreads, and 15 reviews (average rating: 4.14 out of 5). Amazon's got 24 (4.9 of 5). Barnes and Noble has two (3 of 5). Apple's iTunes never heard of the title, which figures because it's not an e-book, never mind an iBook.
I read Evelyn Sibley Lampman's book when I was a kid, and I loved it ... though back then I wasn't in the habit of giving books star-ratings, I'm pretty sure I'd have scored it a solid five of five if anybody had put the question to me.
And yet. Nobody I've ever asked in the current century (with the exception of my siblings) have heard of the story.
Purple House Press, of Cynthiana, Kentucky has a banner across its website that reads: Bringing back the Finest in children's books! Here's their blurb for The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek, which the press re-published in a new edition in May, 2001:
Suppose you were hunting around in the desert for a fossil and instead you found a real (and very large) dinosaur, genus Stegosaurus. Joan and Joey Brown did! Only nobody would believe they had found one, which was just as well because George (as they called him) was very shy.That's not the most compelling blurb I've ever read -- of course, I'm reading through adult eyes and corrective lenses nowadays, perhaps not the ideal perspective for reading blurbs on YA fiction -- but it does touch on the essential point.
He was a loyal friend, though, and he did his best to help the twins with their schemes to make money to finance their mother's dry little ranch on Cricket Creek. George ate sagebrush, looked for fossils, and fought an airplane (which he thought was a pterodactyl) with faithful enthusiasm, but his nut-sized brain often made him more hindrance than help. Especially when he went after the bank robber!
Mrs. Lampman has told her hilarious story so convincingly that you'll be looking for dinosaurs around every mesa. And who knows? Maybe you'll find one!
When I was nine or ten, the aspect of this book that rocked my world was the idea that a kid (like me!) could make friends with an actual, living dinosaur (!), who talked (!!) and had a personality even (!!!). Now, re-reading this book as an adult, I freely admit it's not so magical as I found it back in my elementary school days. But there you have it. As Thomas Wolfe put it, You Can't Go Home Again (1607 Goodreads ratings, 3.99 / 5 stars). And, just for the record, on the question of meeting a real live dinosaur as a conceptual novelty -- I was nine or ten a good long while before Jurassic Park came to a movie theater near me, even a couple of decades before Michael Crichton published the novel on which the movie was based (277,877 ratings on Goodreads, 3.72 of 5 stars).
I've got my old Scholastic Book Service edition of The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek on my shelves beside other obscure childhood favorites -- like About Jerry and Jimmy and the Pharmacist, by Frances B. Thompson, which Google seems to have digitized but has to be several orders of magnitude more obscure than Lampman's book; and The Little Engine that Could, which is still in print.
Prove me wrong: was The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek one of your favorites too? Heck, I'd settle for 'read it and hated it' ...
What's your favorite childhood book that nobody's ever heard of?
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