Meet The Dinosaur Next Door
Sybil knows that there is something off about her next-door neighbor, but she can’t seem to get anyone to believe her. Everyone is so busy going about their days in the busy streets of New York City that they don’t notice Bolivar. They don’t notice his odd height, his tiny arms, or his long tail. No one but Sybil sees that Bolivar is a dinosaur!
We sat down with the creator Sean Rubin to find out how he brought this story to life.
Where did the inspiration for Bolivar come from?
I had (and still have) a toy dinosaur that my cousin Eddie named Bolivar. Bolivar used to have all sorts of adventures, and then one day he became the mayor of New York City. I thought that was a funny idea, so I started writing a book about it. I soon realized that if there was a dinosaur in New York City, no one would actually notice it… at least not for a while. I was so excited by that idea, that I started over again and wrote (and illustrated) a book around that.
Why is there a dinosaur living in New York?
New York is amazing, among many reasons, because when you go outside and into the city, you can disappear—into a crowd, into a park, into a museum. E.B. White said that, if you want it, New York can give you the gifts of loneliness and privacy
Bolivar definitely values his privacy, but I’m not sure what he thinks about the loneliness. In New York you can be by yourself, but you’ll be by yourself in a crowd of 8 million people. I think if Bolivar was okay being lonely, he’d live somewhere completely different.
What does Bolivar mean to you personally?
I started the first draft of Bolivar 13 years ago, and started illustrating it about 6 years ago, so it’s been with me for quite a while. In that time I graduated high school, college, moved too many times, got married, and became a parent, twice. I never expected to be reading this story to my own children by the time it was done. Life can be surprising like that.
What do you hope fans take away from reading Bolivar?
Bolivar is an unusual book in that it takes the visual vocabulary of picture books and newspaper comic strips to create something that’s probably a graphic novel, but may also be a “chapter picture book.” I hope Bolivar challenges people to think about what’s possible with illustrated stories once we stop worrying about these categories. We work in the best medium in the world, and we have so many stories to tell, and so many ways to tell them.
More importantly, I think everyone knows something about themselves that they’re afraid to share with others for fear of being rejected, or worse. I hope this book encourages people to take a chance with one another. After all, being known and understood is something that all people, and dinosaurs, want very much.