Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara

Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara

James Gurney
Picture Book  Series
For ages 12 and up
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2007   ISBN: 978-0740764318

In the mid 1800’s a man called Arthur Denison and his son Will were shipwrecked off the coast of on an island called Dinotopia. The island was a remarkable place because humans and dinosaurs lived side by side, working together to build a harmonious society. Arthur kept journals documenting the adventures that he had in Dinotopia, and over time these journals were discovered by a man called James Gurney.

In one of these found journals, Arthur Denison describes how pleased he is because the Emperor of Chandara has finally given him permission to travel to his empire. For many years no one has been able to visit Chandara and this is a unique opportunity. Arthur can only take Bix, the Protoceratops, as his companion, and though Lee Crabb begs to be taken along, Arthur refuses. Arthur does not trust Crabb and knows full well that Crabb cannot be relied upon to do what is best should a difficult situation arise. He also is prone to stealing valuables whenever he can.

Soon Arthur and Bix are able to leave Waterfall City and begin their journey towards Chandara. For a while all goes well. They meet some interesting people and dinosaurs, and see some extraordinary sights. Then, in Sauropolis, disaster strikes when their precious invitation to Chandara is stolen. Arthur is certain that Crabb has stolen the vital piece of paper but there seems to be little that can be done about the situation. Though there is a chance that they will now be turned away at the border, Arthur and Bix decide to press on. Hopefully they will find Crabb soon and get their invitation back from him.

It isn’t long before they meet up with an old musician who advises them not to attempt to enter Chandara by traveling down the Belt Road. Without their letter of permission they are sure to be turned away by guards. The musician suggests that they find a back way to get there instead. So the travelers head for the coast, leaving the ancient road behind them. After a pleasant rest with congenial companions, Bix and Arthur set off to make the dangerous trip through the Blackwood Flats. Full of meat-eating carnivores of various kinds, this is not a place to linger.

Though they emerge from the Blackwood Flats unscathed, Arthur and Bix still have a hard journey ahead of them as they travel into the Forbidden Mountains. It is only after a hard and cold climb that they finally reach the mountain retreat of Thermala. Then, when the weather eases, they head for the Eastern Mountains and thence to the remote western edge of Chandara

This third book about the extraordinary island of Dinotopia is a joy to both read and to look at. Once again James Gurney has created a work of art that will delight readers who love to take trips into fantasy worlds. This time a fantastic journey is made and as Arthur Denison travels across the island of Dinotopia he, and we along with him, sees all kinds of marvels. Beautiful full page paintings, cross-sections of buildings, and all kinds of other carefully annotated illustrations pack the pages as we accompany Arthur on his adventures.