The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure by Gerald Durrell

The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure by Gerald Durrell
Dinos!

Right, last week we said we were done for Book of da Week for 2021. But! Then we came across this old gem we used to read all the time as stupid kids.

It’s Gerald Durrell’s sequel to The Fantastic Flying Journey. This one, published in 1989, features dinos. And as we were dino mad back as kids, it was kind of a big deal.

The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure

Gerald Durrell (1925-1995) was a British naturalist, conservationist, and writer. He’s perhaps best known in the literary world for My Family and Other Animals (1956).

He wrote the books in this series, but the illustrations (as magnificent as they are) were by New Zealand artist and illustrator Graham Percy (1938-2008).

The story follows the adventures of the Dollybutt kids (Emma, Ivan, and Conrad) and their great-uncle Lancelot.

In this adventure, they travel to the time of the dinosaurs to tour around checking out all the scaly beasts in action.

They get back in time thanks to Lancelot’s invention—a time machine.

Unfortunately, some lunatic bad dudes also got access to the past and are trying to steal the dinosaurs. It’s up to Lancelot and co. to save the day.

They begin in the Triassic, before shifting to Carboniferous era, with dinosaurs such as Coelophysis and Plateosaurus. Percy’s illustrations are very distinct.

Graham Percy's artwork from The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure

As for his depiction of dinosaurs, the illustrator tends to go a bit crazy with it.

They’re manically oversized and dangerous looking, often wanting to attack everything on sight. Kind of how Steven Spielberg went on to depict many of the beasts in Jurassic Park (1993).

Of course, the images capture your imagination as a kid. So it’s no wonder we could remember them all so vividly.

They complement Durell’s fine writing style—he was on suitably adventurous form for this book.

Chapter 3 from The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure by Gerald Durrell

It’s kind of a caper story in many ways. The kids and their great-uncle get into some sticky situations, but escape them in increasingly unlikely ways.

But above all, Durrell’s approach as a naturalist shines through.

In My Family and Other Animals, about his time as a child growing up on Corfu in the 1930s, he documents his naturalistic approach even at an early age.

And the kids in The Fantastic Dinosaur Journey generally take the same approach.

Sure, they’re riding on a dinosaur on the front cover, but on the whole they’re keen observers not intent on disrupting the natural order. So, that’s one of the life lessons here.

But on the whole, it’s just about those epic dinosaurs!

For us, we could remember reading it vividly. But we’d forgotten the name—although that front cover really sticks out in our minds.

But when we saw this old picture of a young Mr. Wapojif recently, that triggered off a flurry of activities.

A bit of zooming in on the book title and a Google search later and we were reintroduced to a childhood favourite.

Why, just one look at that whippersnapper there and you just know he would go on to grow up into a total moron.

Kind of interesting as well, in the 300+ books we’ve reviewed for this feature that’s the only picture of us doing any reading. Neat, eh?

One for your kids then, if you have any! Otherwise, but it for the fancy artwork.

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