by James Gurney

Hardcover, 1992



Local notes

Fic Gur




Turner Publishing (1992), 159 pages


In 1862, after being shipwrecked in uncharted seas, Professor Arthur Denison and his twelve-year-old son Will find themselves washed up on a strange island where people and dinosaurs live together peacefully.


Original publication date


Physical description

159 p.; 10.6 inches


1878685767 / 9781878685766



User reviews

LibraryThing member Nikkles
A beautiful book that is great for putting out on the coffee table or reading with a kid. It has a cute story, but the art is what makes it really worthwhile.
LibraryThing member melannen
Dinotopia is a lavishly illustrated picture-book-for-adults set on an island where dinosaurs and people of all races and cultures live in peace together. The book itself, though, was written with the conceit that it's a reproduction of the journal of a Victorian naturalist who was marooned on the island in the late 19th century - he has a naturalist's interest in everything around him, but especially the natural world, and trained scientific perception. The illustrations in the book every so often go over to precise botanical watercolors (and if I ever get to where I can to botanical illustrations like that, I will be satisfied with my skill as an artist.) And because the time and the place the book came out of, it has a very ecological sensibility overall.

The sequels to the book get increasingly steampunky, which is why I still love the first one best: I fell in love with it as a child, I think, not for the dinosaurs, but for the way it treats with nature, observation, and finding a balance between a scientific perspective and an organic one. (My favorite character of all was the young girl Melanie, who knew all the plants in the forest and would take the naturalist main character on walks to teach him about them. I still want to be her.)
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LibraryThing member BeeQuiet
Some of the most incredible artwork you will ever see in a book resides in this one. It's set out in a similar manner to Victorian journals kept by botanists out exploring, like Darwin. It's a beautiful story, beautifully presented.
LibraryThing member RogueBelle
An imaginative and delightful book. I remember adoring this as a kid, and when I re-found it as an adult, it remained beautiful and inspiring. Gurney's illustrations are among the best in any children's literature, exquisitely detailed, full of so much life and colour. I heartily recommend this book for all dinosaur fans, young and old.… (more)
LibraryThing member ejp1082
This was one of my favorite books when I was younger and remains so even today. James Gurney creates an immersive fantasy world where human beings and dinosaurs live side by side. Beautiful, imaginative illustrations are tied together by the tale of a shipwrecked father and son finding their way through this world.
LibraryThing member benuathanasia
Beautiful story, but it isn't the story so much as the images and the idea BEHIND the story that make this great. I love this entire series.
LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Shipwrecked in the South Pacific, Arthur Denison and his young son Will find themselves rescued by dolphins and delivered to the lost island of Dinotopia in this gorgeously illustrated picture-book/novel. "A Land Apart from Time," according to the book's sub-title, Dinotopia is a hidden continent where dinosaurs never went extinct, are highly evolved and intelligent, and now live in a peaceful society together with the humans that have washed up on their shores over the centuries. Although their initial reaction is one of fear - Arthur, believing that he and Will are in danger, even strikes Bix, the gentle Protoceratops translator who later becomes their great friend, at the beginning of the story - eventually the Denisons adjust to life in this strange new world. They travel first to Waterfall City, where they spend a few years learning about Dinotopia, before they continue on to Canyon City, where Will trains become a Skybax rider - a human who rides the flying dinosaurs, Quetzalcoatlus Skybax - and Arthur becomes fascinated by the "world beneath" the canyons. Eventually Arthur sets off on a voyage into the subterranean world beneath Dinotopia, while Will continues his training. The two are reunited in the Dinotopian capital, Sauropolis, but the implication is that Arthur's further travels, only hinted at in the narrative here, will form the basis for the sequel, Dinotopia: The World Beneath.

Originally published in 1992, Dinotopia was an instant success, launching a series of children's novels set in its fantastic world, as well as two television series based upon it. It also started a trend in which extended picture-book/novels became (for a time) quite popular, with three more Dinotopia stories in this format, as well as Betty Ballantine's The Secret Oceans, and James Christensen's Voyage of the Basset. Although long aware of Dinotopia - I have owned an edition of the book for years - I never happened to pick it up until I ran across the new special edition put out recently by Calla Books. I'm glad I finally gave it a chance, as I found it an immensely engaging story, one which, with both text and image, drew me into its imaginative world. Part travelogue, part fantasy, part picture-book, it is all magic, and is sure to leave readers young and old wanting more. I enjoyed poring over the beautiful illustrations, enjoyed the story, and had no sooner finished than I wanted to start the sequel, which I will now have to track down. The special edition that I read contains additional material - an introduction by Michael Patrick Hearn, an afterword from author/artist James Gurney, including sketches and unused artwork - and makes the story available to readers once again. Recommended to all dinosaur lovers, young and old, and anyone who appreciates truly immersive works of fantasy.
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LibraryThing member Esta1923
Dinotopia by James Gurney

Beautifully illustrated, this lovely book convinces us that people and pre-historic creatures DO coexist on a faraway island. James Gurney tellls us it is the 1862 journal of Arthur Denison. Whatever its provenance I was enthralled.
LibraryThing member shadrachanki
Dinotopia has been one of my favorite books since I first discovered it back in elementary school. The illustrations are fantastical and delicious, and just the thought of a mysterious journal chronicling a lost and forgotten island where dinosaurs and humans live together...well, it was magical.

I still get that magical vibe now, over fifteen years later.… (more)
LibraryThing member themulhern
Just entirely enjoyable with lovely illustrations. A descendant of "The Lost World", but in its Utopian outlook, original.
LibraryThing member ForeverMasterless
It's a rare treat to read a book and be able to say with confidence that you've never read anything like it before. Children's books are fantastic, magical things that I appreciate for many reasons. I never would have expected one of those reasons to be world-building though. Gurney takes the playful premise of dinosaurs and humans coexisting and, like the best fantasists, goes many layers beyond the obvious implications to create a deep and satisfying world that feels real. His dedication to his world is laudable. He thought of everything, from dino fertilizer to a stunted reproduction rate that explains why the dinos haven't overrun the island in the relative absence of natural predators. Care is given to the culture, economy, ecology, and technology in equal measure.

Add gorgeous (and I mean gorgeous) illustrations on every page and text written convincingly in the style of a naturalist's travel journal and you have a one of a kind classic on your hands. This is one of those books that makes me think I would've fallen in love with reading far earlier than I did, had I been exposed to it as a child. Instead I got gifts of Harry Potter and Goosebumps and was turned off of reading until my late teens. C'est la vie.
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LibraryThing member shadrach_anki
Dinotopia has been one of my favorite books since I first discovered it back in elementary school. The illustrations are fantastical and delicious, and just the thought of a mysterious journal chronicling a lost and forgotten island where dinosaurs and humans live together...well, it was magical.

I still get that magical vibe now, over fifteen years later.… (more)




(283 ratings; 4.3)
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