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.)