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Time Flies (Caldecott Honor Book) Hardcover – March 1, 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Yes, no--it's a metaphor! Rohmann's wordless first book shows a bird flying into a dinosaur museum one dark and stormy night. The bird flits about, perching on a dinosaur jaw and soaring on. As it flies past one particular behemoth, the bones of the creature are suddenly cloaked in flesh; the bird has entered a prehistoric landscape. A dinosaur eventually swallows the bird, but as it wings its way down the creature's throat and through its digestive system, the would-be predator is transformed to a skeleton and the bird returns once again to the museum hall. The meaning of this exercise is unclear, although a jacket note explains that Rohmann was "inspired by the theory that birds are the modern relatives of the dinosaurs." The target audience will likely be mystified. Slightly older readers, however, might be intrigued by the time-travel conceit and the scientifically minded will be wowed by Rohmann's oil paintings, which capture the textures of bone, tooth, eyeball, etc., with as much attentiveness and morbidity as, say, an 18th-century still life of gamebirds. Ages 4-9.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 3-In this wordless journey back in time, a bird flies into a museum filled with dinosaur skeletons. The walls dissolve and the skeletons take on flesh, coming to life. In a dramatic picture, the bird is eaten by what appears to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex. But the dinosaur's flesh fades away, as gradually and mysteriously as it had first appeared, and the bird flies free, easily escaping from what is again nothing but bones. The columns of the museum's grand hall reappear, and the bird flies off into the sky, watched by a pterodactyl gargoyle. This impressive effort is rather like David Wiesner's Tuesday (Clarion, 1991), sharing its elements of technical expertise and surreal fantasy. Rohmann's oil paintings (all double-page spreads) show the inside of the museum in warm, burnished browns and reds, while the colors are cooler and more varied in the outdoor light of the prehistoric scenes. Unusual perspectives and striking compositions and images make for a dynamic and intriguing book. The picture of the bird balanced on the teeth of the skeleton is a remarkable juxtaposition of delicacy and strength. This title has potential for classroom use- when studying paleontology or evolution, preparing for a field trip, or doing creative writing projects. All in all, a title that children will love.
Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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A bird, a rather marvelous bird flies into a museum where it encounters a hall devoted to the skeletal remains of dinosaurs, all displayed in somber colors. Our little bird embarks upon a journey of imagination and speculation via the wonderful art work of the author. The bird travels trough times, back through time to the beginnings of his or her species. Gradually the skeletons gain flesh and life and the little bird travels through time to the age of these magnificent beasts.
The reader must watch closely as they leaf through this book...watch for the wonderful and imaginative details! Gradually we see, mixed with these extinct creatures, remnants of lost and vanished civilizations which conjure up visions of a lost Atlantis, overgrown with the forefathers of forefathers of our trees and plants.
The details of this work are rather amazing. The dark and brooding colors contracted with the constant movement and flashes of brightness have almost a hypnotic effect. I have watch otherwise hyperactive kids be totally engrossed and silent while reading (or I should say gazing) at this work. You can actually see their minds wonder and speculate...their imaginations are captured!
This is one of those books that can be read by dozens of children and dozens of adults and when asked what they received from viewing the story, you will get literally dozens of answers. It just does not get much better than this. The reader is allowed the privilege of supplying their own words, come to their own conclusions and be lost for a time in a world which is neither here nor there.
I highly recommend this one for your child's library and truly home your child, he or she, is the sort that will be mesmerized by what the author has offered here. If so, you have a very special child on your hands.
We liked it, and the illustrations and the idea are beautiful. But reading it didn't enthrall us, and I'm glad we got it from the library rather than buying it.
On a dark and stormy orange-skied night, a small bird flies into a natural history museum of some sort. As the bird glides, perches, and looks about the hall full of bones, things begin to change around it. A bolt of lightning lights up the scene and before you know it the bird has been sent back in time to when dinosaurs weren't macabre displays but living breathing creatures. The bird flaps about brontosaurus, flies just in front of pterodactyls, and finally (in a surprise move on Rohmann's part) is snapped up by the T-Rex. Don't fret for the birdy, though. Suddenly we're with it, flying down the T-Rex's throat. An increasingly bony throat. The bird flies out of the back of the skeleton and into a half-past half-present world. As it escapes into the night a pterodactyl statue views it keenly from its perch.
Though the book makes no reference to this, I did like the juxtaposition of a bird with dinosaurs. The theory that birds are descended from the dinos is more than convincing and it would have been nice if Rohmann had slipped in a clever allusion here or there. To be fair though, this book came out in 1994 and the theory was hardly as widespread then as it is now. Rohmann plays with light and shadow in this book, conjuring up horror films and dark noirs with his use of dark tones and flickers. I give him great kudos for the moment in which the bird gets snapped up. One minute it's there. The next a T¬-Rex is looking mighty pleased with itself as some feathers float gently to the forest floor. The thrill of shock kids will feel will be immediately alleviated by the safe n' sound feathered one booking it to the back of the monster's throat. Still, it's the moment that counts. And it's lovely.
The book bears some slight similarities to "Fledgling" by Robert J. Blake in that both books offer lush views of a small bird flying through unbelievable perils. A pairing of the two together would make for an excellent bird-centric private storytime. Of course the obvious pairing here is with anything made by David Wiesner. "Sector 7" or "Tuesday" (both wordless) perfected this kind of realistic surrealism in mute picture books. Rohmann does a nice enough job, but "Time Flies" lacks Wiesner's panache and oomph. It's just an awfully nice title with dinosaurs for the ancient-reptile-centric. All in all, I would not hesitate in the least to recommend this book to every kiddie that clamors for it. A great book and an enjoyable ride.