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Volume 60
Number 10
December 2009



Dinosaur Doc
A penchant for prehistoric creatures—and poetry—inspires a Hopkins surgeon to write a children’s book.


Dinosaur Doc
Isaiah Ellis gets a crash course in dinosaurs, compliments of surgeon-poet Steven Cunningham.

When he’s not holding a scalpel, surgical fellow Steven Cunningham pens children’s poetry. The bilingual father of four is author of the English and Spanish Dinosaur Name Poems / Poemas de Nombres de Dinosaurios. Translated into Spanish by his wife, Myriam Gorospe, a senior investigator at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, the whimsically illustrated book won the 2009 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award in both Children’s Poetry and Spanish Language Book categories.

Inspired by Cunningham’s dinosaur-obsessed son, the 70-page paperback tackles dinosaurs alphabetically (Allosaurus to Velociraptor), using fanciful prose that plays on their names. Rich watercolor images reinforce Cunningham’s mostly rhyming verse.

Cunningham, a Denver native and author of numerous articles on medical nomenclature, was a contributing editor of Maryland Poetry Review, and his poems have appeared in various anthologies, including Poems for Chromosomes and the cookbook Pasta Poetics. Last month, Cunningham visited the Hopkins Children Center to read to 6-year-old Isaiah Ellis. “Stegosaurus,” Cunningham informed his captivated subject, “means plated lizard,” and then he began reciting the book’s opening poem:

“Plated Lizard,” I know that you’re an herbivore
And would not eat a child like me,
Since you prefer the forest floor,
And munching plants like broccoli.

Signed books are available through Matthews Johns Hopkins Medical Book Center and personalized gift copies through Books are also available at and

–Judy F. Minkove



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