Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
A bird enters the museum and flies into the dinosaur display area. It enters the skeleton and travels back in time to see the dinosaurs in their habitat. This wordless book's dramatic oil paintings conveys the message that dinosaurs may be the ancestors of birds. Winner of a Caldecott Honor.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 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
In this wordless picture book, Rohmann sets the scene in a natural-history museum, where the dinosaur hall suddenly time-shifts into the Age of Reptiles (or "were" the dinosaurs the ancestors of today's birds?). During a thunderstorm, a bird flies among the dinosaur skeletons in the majestic hall. The scene subtly changes, as the walls become a landscape, the stone columns turn into trees, and the bones flesh out into living creatures. Swallowed by one of the dinosaurs, the bird flies down its throat, only to find the flesh thinning out to the bone framework again and the museum reappearing. The bird flies free again, out of the beast and out of the building. It's a short trip, but kids fascinated by dinosaurs may enjoy this vicarious voyage back in time. The handsome, atmospheric paintings heighten the drama as they tell their simple, somewhat mysterious, and quite short story.
From the Publisher
“Unusual perspectives and striking compositions and images make for a dynamic and intriguing book. 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.”—School Library Journal
“Awesome is the only word for this wordless picture book.”—Atlantic Monthly
“In beautifully composed spreads, the museum’s glowering sandstone hues are imaginatively played off against the early world’s innocent sky blue and vegetable green, the tiny, lithe bird against the lumbering primeval giants, flesh against bone, shadow against substance. A splendid debut.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred