Monday, 2 October 2017

Night at the Museum • Dinosaurs of China sleepovers and previews of HOW THE BORKS BECAME at Wollaton Hall


I enjoyed playing a small part in two Dino Doze schools sleepovers at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham last week.

Wollaton Hall South Elevation

The Hall is a magnificent Elizabethan country house that is home to Nottingham City Council's Natural History Museum. The Museum is currently hosting a Dinosaurs of China exhibition featuring an impressive collection of Chinese fossils and dinosaur specimens. You can read The Guardian's review of the exhibition here.

The Museum invited two lucky local schools to spend the night sleeping in one of the exhibition's galleries. It was the first time the museum had organised a sleepover and I was as excited as the children to share in this experience. I'd enjoyed visiting the exhibition in the daytime, but it was a huge thrill to see the spot-lit dinosaurs looming out of the darkness in this historic setting. 

The towering Mamenchisaurus in the Great Hall is the tallest dinosaur
skeleton ever exhibited in the UK.

A Sinraptor standing guard by a doorway.

Many of the dinosaurs' skeletons, like this Protoceratops, cast some very dramatic shadows!

Each sleepover started with a torchlit tour of the exhibition by the museum's curator and resident dinosaur expert Dr Adam Smith. One of the themes of the exhibition is how some two-legged dinosaurs have evolved into modern-day birds and, after the tour, I gave the children a preview of How the Borks Became, a rhyming picture book I've created with Elys Dolan to explain natural selection, the process by which evolution takes place.

Before reading the book we played spot the difference with a couple of Elys's before and after Bork illustrations and the children tried to guess the environmental factors that had caused the Borks to evolve.

I'd sent an early proof of How the Borks Became to the museum in the hope that they'd be interested in hosting a launch event and they'd liked the book so much they asked me to preview it at the sleepovers. The book does not come out until next May, so I'm very grateful to publishers Otter-Barry Books for allowing me to preview it so far ahead of publication.

How the Borks Became explains how natural variation within a species enables plants and animals to evolve.

I'm pleased to report that the book was very well received by both the schools that took part in the sleepovers.

After this bedtime story the children eventually settled down to sleep under the watchful gaze of a Gigantoraptor.


I really enjoyed my nights with the dinosaurs. If you haven't seen the exhibition and can get to Nottingham (in the daytime!) before it closes at the end of October, I thoroughly recommend it!




runs at Wollaton Hall until 29 October 2017.
You can book tickets HERE.



How the Borks Became
by me and Elys Dolan will be published by
Otter-Barry Books in May 2018


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