Dinovember family brings story to life with 'What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night'

dinovember
Refe and Susan Tuma

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By Jordan Melendrez

Sure, it's almost No-shave November. But it's also almost Dinovember. And to celebrate, the Kansas City parents who brought dinosaurs back to life are at it again.

Refe and Susan Tuma started Dinovember in 2012 because their 1-year-old son Leif was struggling with sleeping, and they felt guilty that they were too exhausted to get out of the house with their older daughters. While the children slept, Susan set up the dinosaurs — the same toys she and her brother used to play with — in the bathroom in lifelike poses. The next morning, one of their daughters ran into their room and exclaimed that the dinosaurs had come to life.

"After that reaction, we knew we had to do it again," Refe said in an interview with TODAY.com.

For the past two years, the Tumas spent the better half of a month (with some nights off for holidays or travel) destroying their house with mischievous dinosaurs.

And this year, the Tumas are starting off Dinovember with a book called "What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night," which will be released by Little, Brown and Company on Oct. 28.

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"It's something that felt pretty natural," Refe said about creating the book. "It was a fun opportunity to do a book that we care about."

The family began shooting pictures for the book in the spring and summer, with the help of their kids — Adeia, 7; Alethea, 6; Leif, now 3; and Amarie, 1.

"They were able to participate without spoiling the fun," he said.

One of the messiest incidents involved 600 pounds of ice cubes strewn across the kitchen floor; a mess Refe and Susan later had to clean up.

Ever wonder what kind of trouble toy dinosaurs get into when their owners are sleeping? Wonder no more. Writer and designer Refe and his wife, Susan Tuma have been recording their dinosaurs' antics every November since 2012.

"It's a double-edged sword," Refe laughed about the extra work. "But at the same time, it was one of the funnest shoots all year."

The book should bolster an already large fan base — they have over 250,000 likes on Facebook

"The best part about it is that, by accident, the dinosaurs have inspired other parents to have fun with their kids," Refe said. "Sometimes it means they participate in Dinovember, or they find ways that make sense for their kids and their families."

And after seeing his 7-year-old daughter flipping through a copy of the book and laughing, Refe hopes others love it just as much.

"We're very excited about the book," he said. "It was a really fun thing, to make something that both kids and their parents could enjoy."