Dinosaurs at Oxford museum inspire children’s author’s new book

Mini Grey’s frequent visits to Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History have inspired her first non-fiction book.

For many years she would visit the museum in Parks Road so her son Herbie could see the dinosaur models and other fascinating exhibits.

As a result, the attraction became one of the children’s author’s favorite places and prompted her to write The Greatest Show on Earth, about the history of the world.

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The book shares the entire history of Planet Earth, from the birth of the planet, to the age of bacteria, the era of dinosaurs, and much more – a resource to help create deeper discussions around themes of sustainability and environmental awareness for curious young readers .

It’s a big subject, so to make sure she had got everything right, the author asked museum director Prof Paul Smith and another eminent academic to ‘check the facts’ before they were published and they were happy to help.

Ms Gray said: “This all started when my son Herbie was about five and we would visit the museum to see the dinosaurs – he’s 15 now.

“I realized I had managed to go through my school career without knowing some key dates – how old is the earth, when did the dinosaurs become extinct.

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“The book is for readers of any age, and I would love it to be in schools.”

She added: “We are so lucky to have world-class museums in Oxford like the Natural History Museum and the Ashmolean.”


Mini Gray was given her name after being born in a Mini in a car park in Newport, Wales.

She studied for an MA in Sequential Illustration at Brighton under the tutelage of John Vernon Lord.

Mini also worked as a primary school teacher in Oxford, where she now lives, with her partner and her son.

While her latest book is a change of direction to non-fiction, she wouldn’t rule out more picture books in the future, once she has a good idea for a story to work on.


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Her books include Egg Drop, The Pea and the Princess (shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal), Biscuit Bear (winner of the Nestlé Children’s Book Prize Gold Award), Traction Man is Here (winner of the Boston Horn Book Award and shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal), The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon (winner of the Nestlé Children’s Book Prize Bronze Award and winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal), and The Last Wolf.


The Greatest Show on Earth is published by Puffin, price £14.99.

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