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Dinosaur Dream

Late one night, Wilbur hears a tapping at his window. There, standing in the yard outside his window, is a baby apatosaur. Knowing that the dinosaur can't stay, Wilbur begins the long journey back through time to take him home. Bravely facing a fierce saber-toothed cat and narrowly escaping a monstrous "Tyrannosaurus rex," the two new friends trudge through the Ice Age and past the Cretaceous period, finally arriving at the Jurassic period. Once his long-necked friend is safely home, Wilbur makes the journey forward to his own time atop the largest, most spectacular dinosaur he's ever seen.
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Talk about the odd couple: this sweetly written, captivating picture book limns the camaraderie between dinosaur enthusiast Wilbur (his red pj's sport a dinosaur silhouette) and Gideon, an escapee from the Jurassic period. When the baby dino comes calling after Wilbur falls asleep, the practical boy realizes the unsuitability of the situation and resolves to lead his visitor home--``Follow me, Gideon. . .we have one hundred forty million years to go through.'' In an appealing twist, the intrepid lad proves more courageous than the dinosaur: one of Nolan's ( Step into the Night ; Mockingbird Morning ) luminous watercolors depicts Wilbur trudging through a new snowfall, as a whining Gideon follows precisely in the cleared track. So deftly does the author build this relationship during their arduous journey that children--and adults as well--may blink back a tear when the two friends finally part. Wilbur is a model hero, without a hint of precocity in manner or appearance, and red-eyed Gideon ranks with the best of animal creations. No bones about it, this is a real charmer. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)

K-Gr 3-- There's too much highbrow hype and not enough good storytelling to make this book linger in readers' memories. Wilbur befriends Gideon, a baby dinosaur, in the middle of the night (or--is it only a dream? The trite plot gimmick doesn't help). The two of them travel back through time, exploring the Ice Age and the different eras of reptiles, until Gideon returns to the Jurassic period, where he belongs. Sure, this is a fantasy, so it's conceivable that Wilbur and Gideon could trek through the snows of the Ice Age, visiting woolly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers. But writing fiction doesn't excuse misinformation. Wilbur's statement, ``Soon we'll be out of the Ice Age and into the Age of Mammals,'' seems to exclude tigers and mammoths from Mammalia altogether. The painted illustrations, which at first look very attractive, work best when they stick to realism, such as a bird's-eye view looking down over the head of a Triceratops. But a closeup of Wilbur hugging Gideon, with glowing clouds in the background, is as cloying as sofa-sized painted sunsets. Try Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo (Harper, 1988) by William Joyce for a better-realized story about a dinosaur compadre. --Cathryn A. Camper, Minneapolis Public Library

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