This Caldecott Honor book takes its readers (or should I say viewer) into a world of wonder and adventure. Flipping through the pages of this wonderfully illustrated book, I recall my dinosaur days (those days when dinosaurs were just too cool to ignore). I think every child, upon first discovering dinosaurs, are taken back by the giant reptiles that once ruled the world.
In Time Flies we join a little bird’s adventure one stormy night. The tale begins at the very first page. We are introduced to the protagonist—a bird seeking shelter. The first page is divided into three horizontal panels that form an arch. It’s reminiscent of a window and an invitation to the viewer to peer. The reader may be tempted to skip pages 2 and 3 as it holds the title and author’s name: DO NOT BE MISLED. Take in the rich tones and detailed skeletal structures of the dinosaurs in what seems to be a natural museum. Here we discover where our protagonist finds shelter.
In this story we truly are spectators. We watch the bird as s/he flies and explores the museum. An ominous sight of lightning and shadows hints on something waiting to happen. And as the bird flies we move from the reddish-brown tones of the museum to something more lighter and greener. The transition from mere bones to flesh is fluid and amazing. Like the bird we stare in amazement how from dried bone we find ourselves in the dinosaur era. Rohmann’s artistry is exquisite in the rendering of this transition and time warp.
The bird flies through the era and the viewer is indulged to see all sorts of dinosaurs. My favorite was the juxtaposition of the bird and pterodactyl flying. It was a beautiful moment of seeing how nature has evolved. As we reach the end of the book, the bird finds itself with a t-rex once again. And like the beginning combination of lightning and t-rex bones, the bird gets eaten by the t-rex and on the lower left side of the page we find lightning. Just like that, the transition happens from flesh to bones and from lush colors to the reddish-brown.
The title is a wonderful play in the concept of evolution and the bird “flying” through time. The title alone is worth a short discussion between child and parent/guardian/teacher. I bought Time Flies for two reasons: 1) Our GB Special of Wordless Picture Books and 2) The sense of wonder it offers. The book opens the reader’s imagination and leaves room for a rich discussion on dinosaur and evolution. I can already imagine children asking whether dinosaurs exist, what dinosaurs are being portrayed in the book and how did the bird end up in the dinosaur era. This book is a lovely piece of literature to present as introduction to the discussion of dinosaurs.
Eric Rohmann is a Caldecott winning author and illustrator from Chicago, Illinois. He also wrote the award winning picture book “My Friend Rabbit.” Aside from illustrating and writing picture books he also creates book jackets for other novels like Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.