Dinotopia: The World Beneath

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Four years after being shipwrecked on the island of Dinotopia, Arthur Denison and his sixteen-year-old son, Will, continue their explorations of this fantastic land, where dinosaurs and humans coexist as equals in peaceful harmony, for the most part. Will has trained to become a Skybax Corps pilot, riding the largest flying creature that has ever lived. As Will patrols the skies on his Skybax named Cirrus, his scientist father mounts an expedition to the fabled World Beneath, hoping to explore a long-lost Dinotopian civilization, the traces of which he glimpsed in the first book.

Denison is accompanied on his expedition by a cigar-chomping, treasure-seeking old salt named Lee Crabb, who serves as guide; a beautiful woman, Oriana Nascava, who holds a mysterious key; and Denison’s faithful dinosaur translator, a Protoceratops named Bix. Their journey generates more questions than answers, however, as they discover the remains of an ancient and more technologically advanced civilization hidden deep within the bowels of the earth.

The book’s main feature is author/illustrator James Gurney’s beautiful color illustrations: his realistic depictions of dinosaurs lumbering among humans down stone-paved streets lined with medieval buildings, the ornate costumes of both humans and dinosaurs, the imaginative mechanical gizmos reminiscent of Jules Verne, the elaborate maps, and the underground palaces and ancient treasures. The book combines a child’s fascination with dinosaurs, fairy-tale costumes and settings, and an Indiana Jones-like adventure to create a winning addition to the world of children’s literature.