Cosmo for Captain
Dino Boulder Ball

Illustrated by Peter Rutherford

(5-7 years old)

Cosmo is playing boulder ball with his friends
in Volcano Valley. Suddenly, they hear a
dreadful roar. It's Tyro the terrible tyrannosaur
– and she's hungry ...


UK Paperback • ISBN-10: 0192765299 • ISBN-13: 978-0192765291

The UK edition is part of the Read with Oxford series



However you may be able to order a remaindered or second-hand
copy through Amazon by using the sales links below.

US Hardcover• ISBN-10: 1404831169 • ISBN-13: 9781404831162

The US edition is part of the Read-It Readers series

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I thought up the story of Cosmo for Captain when I was seventeen. I was an assistant scout leader for a couple of years, during which time I helped with the running of a weekend cub camp. The camp had a prehistoric theme and I was asked to tell a suitable camp-fire story. Instead of using a story from a book, I decided to invent my own.

I flipped through a book about dinosaurs until I came across a page about the compsognathus, a small dinosaur, no bigger than a chicken. I had always thought of dinosaurs as huge lumbering animals and so I was surprised and amused by this comparison and decided to try and think up a story about this little creature.

I didn't write anything down, I just drew a series of large pictures. The first few pictures were of a familiar type that showed dinosaurs in comparison to well-known objects and the words went something like this:

"This is a story about dinosaurs.
Some dinosaurs were as big as … an elephant!
Some dinosaurs were as big as … a double-decker bus!
And some dinosaurs were as big as … a CHICKEN!"

This opening got a big laugh and got the story off to a good start.

The story worked well, and many years later, when I was starting out as a children's writer, I remembered it and wrote it down as a picture book.

There was no interest from publishers, so, some time later, I reworked it as chapter fiction and came up with outlines for three more stories all set in the same Volcano Valley setting.

Adapting the story to chapter fiction involved adding more detail in terms of characterisation and dialogue. I had great fun thinking up the prehistoric insults that Cosmo throws at Tyro, such as "Swamp-breath", "Fossil-face" and "Clumsy-claws".

Another change was that I made some of the characters female (they were all male in the earlier drafts) including Tyro, the story's villainess. This seems to go against the grain, as many people that have read the story fail to pick up on the fact that Tyro is female - which says a lot about sexual stereotypes. However, as the BBC's excellent Walking with Dinosaurs TV series illustrated, female tyrannosaurs were considerably larger and far more ferocious than their male counterparts.

Although there are only five Volcano Valley characters named in this first story, there are a number of additional dinosaur characters who will (hopefully) feature in subsequent books. The illustrator, Peter Rutherford, was provided with a list of these additional characters to include in his artwork. When I received the first proofs of Peter's illustrations, I was delighted to see that the dinosaurs had been so skilfully drawn that I could recognise all of these additional characters. Experienced dinosaur spotters should be able to identify Terry the pterodactyl, Iggy the iguanodon, Anna the anatosaurus and Corey the corythosaurus along with the five dinosaurs mentioned in the story.


Illustrations © 2002 Peter Rutherford. Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press.