Dinotopia

Amazon

There’s some odd, old lady part inside me that has always loved musty topics like geography, classical architecture, and steampunk-like metalworks. I loved spying on my dad when he played Myst and enjoyed watching The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen when it came out.

I’m not certain when or from where my parents purchased Dinotopia (James Gurney), but it quickly became one of my favorite children’s book. If you have never heard of nor looked at a copy, please do so. I feel that truly extraordinary books -ones that an author or illustrator clearly spent a lot of time on- are severely underappreciated.

Dinoptopia is one of those few works written and illustrated by the same person, and the art is FANTASTIC. The story is interesting as well; it reads like a juvenile Robinson Crusoe or Swiss Family Robinson.

In fact, these stories begin very similarly. The first page of Dinotopia is made to look like a water- and ink-splattered journal entry from Arthur Denison. He describes a storm that he and his son (Will) are able to weather, though their boat and crew do not. They wash up on the beach of a strange land with ancient ferns, and are soon greeted by… a dinosaur?

Thus begins Arthur’s journey across an entire mysterious island with his son. One settlement is upon the treetops, like Lothlórien (Lord of the Rings). Another is around a volcano. The capital looks very like the capital city of Naboo (Star Wars -apparently fans were upset at Lucas for “stealing” from Gurney). My favorite city is one built over several waterfalls.

Many of the pages have “clippings” of leaves and flowers or sketches of dinosaurs supposedly drawn by Arthur.

There’s not much story besides chronicling. Now that I’ve read science fiction and fantasy novels, it reminds me more of journeying sorts. There is some mystery. They discover a mysterious portal, and Arthur is determined to travel through it.

I feel my paltry review cannot do this beautiful book the justice it deserves. Just go buy it; the artwork alone is gorgeous.

(Part of my reviews from Children’s Books.)

 

Children’s Books, a Decision

This month, our neighborhood book group is having a casual get-together; a potluck. “Bring your favorite children’s book to share,” the e-mail instructed.

Ah, favorites. I’ve mentioned them before.

Although, I don’t feel pressure to show off in my selection of a favorite children’s book. Instead, I feel an anxious inability to limit myself to just one.

I’ve even told myself I’ll only choose from picture books. Still, I’d have an easier time if, say, I’d been told to choose my favorite child (yes, I have a favorite).

After looking over our two bookshelves of children’s picture books, I’ve narrowed things down to a paltry 17 titles.

Favorite Books

Dinotopia, by James Gurney
The Sneetches and Other Stories, by Dr. Suess
The Adventures of TinTin, by Hergé
The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters, by Janet & Allan Ahlberg
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein
There’s a Nightmare in my Closet, by Mercer Mayer
Magical Hands, by Marjorie Barker and Yoshi
Oh, Were They Ever Happy, by Peter Spier
Le Livre de Bruits, by Soledad Bravi
Just Go to Bed, by Mercer Mayer
The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds
The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf
The Napping House, by Audrey and Don Wood
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst
King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, by Don and Audrey Wood (sadly, not pictured); and
Tuesday, by David Wiesner (also, sadly, not pictured).

This would be a long post, indeed, if I were to tell why each of these is significant to me.

The short answer is that I have an emotional connection with each: humorous, happy, relatable, impressed by quality, familiar -and all, save two, nostalgic.

I now realize I’ll need to devote an article to these, one at a time, in the future. They deserve nothing less.

In the meantime, how do I choose?

Once the hour arrives, shall I close my eyes and Eeny, Meeny, Miny Moe it? Point? Pick a number?

Well… what would YOU do if your (bookgroup) asked YOU?