*5 + infinity Stars*
I can't state enough how much I love this book. This book and the sequel were some of the few books I ever bought for myself during my childhood that weren't either at Walmart or at a used bookstore (if the book is in perfect condition, isn't it always better to get more for your money?).
I have long loved dinosaurs and love to see the different ways fiction has humans and these amazing creatures interact with each other. At one end of the spectrum is Jurassic Park and the other end...this book. Humans and dinosaurs living together, working together, and building a world together is fantastical...and never so realistically made to appear normal as here. The books does this, in a large part, by the beautiful drawings that appear on every page. They are so detailed, so longingly rendered, that one at times does not need words to describe how this mythical world works.
But, while a picture may be worth a thousand words, the right words can make all the difference to a viewer's understanding. Gurney utilizes this quite well with the use of the main character's POV. We enter the world of Dinotopia through the eyes of a man coming to it from the outside, with no idea of what is to come. We discover the realities of this world beside him as he slowly leaves the role of outsider so that the reader too may come to feel a part of this world. Some have stated it reads like a travelogue. While it is set up in this light, it not only fits in with the narrative of the story, but it allows the reader to feel as if they, with Arthur Denison, are explorers of a strange realm. The addition of his teenage son further adds to the reader's understanding by connecting with the younger ages of potential readers and watching someone grow into an adult in a society very different from our own.
While perfectly fine for a middle school aged child and above, this book can not be truly enjoyed except by an adult. Amazingly enough, James Gurney has created a picture book about dinosaurs for adults-and done it perfectly.
Not long enough (but there's a sequel!).
Read this book. If you haven't tried it already, got directly to your local library and check it out. If you or a child in your family loves dinosaurs, read this book. If you love graphic novels or picture books, read this book. If you are an art student-why haven't you found this book yet?