Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time

James Gurney
168 pages; published 1992

Dinosaur eyes take in a wider field of view, blending in at the edges like a glass globe filled with water. Nothing is gray or drab or dull; rather they see swimming particles of colour, a moving mosaic of dancing coloured specks. As we would see a starscape in the night sky, they see a sparkling “lifescape” in the woods by day, a world teeming with life.

Some humans can see with dinosaur vision, Bix explained: artists, poets, and children. But for the rest of the us, as we grow older, the mammalian part of the brain clouds over the older reptilian part, and drains away a little of the glory. (106)

When I was little I read Swiss Family Robinson ... at least I assume I did. I don't remember actually reading it (the first time), only having known that I had. Whatever the circumstances, the story was one that fascinated me and stuck with me for a long, long time. The story of the shipwreck and having to find a way to live on a deserted island has been the basis of many (many) of my dreams over the years and there is always something about those types of stories that draw me in immediately.

The first book I remember reading (after the start of the fixation) that had the same idea was Dinotopia. I picked up in the primary school library and just feel in love with - but it was always one of those books that was, at the time, far too expensive to buy and has no become one that I actually enjoy tracking down and finding again when the mood strikes. Not having it on hand makes it a little more special.

Dinotopia is the fictional journal kept by Arthur Denison, a turn of the century scientist and explorer, when he and his son, Will, are shipwrecked on an island the world never knew: Dinotopia. In this fantastic world, humans and Dinosaurs ("Saurians") live together in harmony, in a beautifully cultured and fertile utopia.

The book covers their first year(s) on the island: their travels around the larger cities, their education of Dinotopian ways (first rule of Dinotopia: 'One raindrop raises the sea'), and mostly, their adjustment to this new and wonderful world. Young Will takes to it quite readily while Arthur, amazed at all he sees, maintains his distance a little longer, allowing the reader to see and read the book through his curious, yet steady voice.

Dinotopia is a joy to read, not only for the pure imagination of it's story but for Gurney's unbelievably beautiful illustrations that fill the book. These are images that you just want to fall into. If you haven't already read Dinotopia, it is one you must track down and read. I am very much looking forward to reading his latest book in the series. 5/5

1 comment :

James Gurney said...

Let me be the first to thank you for your very generous tribute.