Dinosaur Habitatby Helen V. Griffith, Sonja Lamut (Illustrator)
What if you suddenly found yourself in a Jurassic world of colossal reptiles, giant insects, and a smoking volcano? Ryan wants to stay forever. Nathan would go home NOW, if he could only figure out how. In the meantime, some of the dinosaurs have plans of their own for the two brothers. And the volcano looks ready to blow!
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The wet green world was silent and still. Nothing moved but the water drops that slid down mosscovered trunks and dripped from the tips of branches. Ferns were everywhere, some tiny and delicate, others as tall as trees. There were creepers, too, and twining vines, and bushy clumps of grasses and reeds.
A lake, its surface as smooth as glass, lay in the midst of the swampy world. Beyond the lake rose a mountain, its rough black sides forming a perfect cinder cone. But no smoke poured from its vent. No rumbling sounds came from its depths. The volcano slept.
Across the lake a high cliff of reddish brown stone reached toward the sky. Near the top of the cliff was a ledge, and hunched on the ledge was a creature, with wings like a bird. But instead of feathers, it had brilliant red skin. Instead of a beak, it had toothy, pointed jaws. It sat without stirring, as still as the rock on which it perched.
Half submerged in the shallows of the blue lake lay a barrel-shaped animal of an even brighter blue. The animal had four paddle-like flippers capable of propelling it swiftly through the water. But no ripples disturbed the surface of the glassy lake. No shadowy shape cut through the drifting underwater plants. The flippers floated motionless.
A creature with an odd bony frill across the back of its neck stood at the edge of the lake. It seemed about to walk into the water and dip its horned snout for a drink. But the creature never moved. It remained in place like a glossy black statue, its two long brow horns glistening with moisture.
A little distance from the lake an animal with yellow, pebblyskin and a flat snout appeared to be standing guard beside a depression in the swampy ground. But its head never turned. Its eyes stared blankly. It made no effort to see what might be lurking nearby. If it had, it would have discovered the small, sharp-faced creature that crouched in the undergrowth, as green as the vegetation that concealed it. And just as still.
Deeper in the wet woods another swamp dweller, this one a startling orange color, stood quietly. With its long, snaky neck it had the ability to reach the treetops. It could easily have feasted on the very highest leaves. But its mouth never opened. The leaves remained untouched.
Strangest of all, far from the other inhabitants of the swampy world, a glittering golden beast balanced on strong hind legs, its long, sharp talons piercing the marshy earth. A massive head and daggerlike teeth gave it a dangerous appearance. But no sound came from the powerful jaws. The animal was as motionless as everything else in the quiet swamp.
Drops of water plopped from branches onto the bodies of the strange, colorful creatures. But not a head turned. Not an eye blinked.
The humid air, the warm temperature, the lush vegetation seemed to create a perfect environment for the animals that inhabited it. Yet, except for the dripping water, nothing moved. For the moment, at least, everything was still.
Nathan stomped into the house late and mad. He was late because he had stopped off on the way home from school to shoot a few baskets. He was mad because he had to get home to keep an eye on his younger brother. Every day. That meant that he missed out on everything that happened after school. It was because Mom had a job now and didn't want Ryan coming home to an empty house.
"What about me?" Nathan had asked her when she made the rule. "Don't you worry about me coming home to an empty house?"
Mom had smiled, but Nathan wasn't kidding. "Well, when will Ryan be old enough to come home to an empty house?" he asked.
"When he's your age," Mom said.
"Ryan's only eight," Nathan protested. "He won't be my age for a hundred years."
"More like four," his mother said. "I'd better have a talk with your math teacher."
Nathan didn't laugh. He never felt like laughing these days, at least not when he was home. He didn't have a life of his own now that Mom was working. He had been turned into an unpaid baby-sitter.
The house was quiet. As Nathan walked to his bed to dump his book bag, he tripped over one of the books Ryan left lying everywhere. "Ryan!" he yelled angrily, but there was no answer. He yelled again. Ryan should have been home by now. Nathan wondered if he had been here and then been afraid to enter the house with no one there. Maybe he was wandering around the neighborhood telling everyone how his brother had deserted him.
As Nathan started to leave the bedroom, he stumbled over the book again. Angrily he kicked it out of the way. It skidded across the room and smacked against Ryan's terrarium, where it sat on the floor under the window. The jolt caused a rain shower in the terrarium. Water dripped from the plants and ran down the glass sides.
The lid had been knocked off by the impact, and Nathan went over to replace it. He knew Ryan would notice and go running to Mom if he thought Nathan had touched his terrarium. He was very particular about it, checking the plants every day and adjusting the cover to control the amount of air and moisture. He had made a little tropical world full of thriving green plants.
There were animals in the terrarium, too, but unlike the plants, they weren't alive, and they weren't anything you would find in the tropics or anywhere else. They were little plastic dinosaurs.
Since Ryan wasn't around to yell, Nathan reached down into the terrarium...Dinosaur Habitat. Copyright © by Helen Griffith. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Helen V. Griffith is the author of many award-winning books for children, including the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book Georgia Music, illustrated by James Stevenson, and the ALA Notable Books Grandaddy and Janetta, Grandaddy’s Place, and Grandaddy’s Stars (all illustrated by James Stevenson). Helen Griffith lives in Wilmington, Delaware.
Sonja Lamut has illustrated several books for children, including Alex the Cat and How Many Candles?, both by Helen V. Griffith, And the Cow Said Moo! by Mildred Phillips, and This Little Piggy by Nicholas Heller. The artist lives in New York City.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Once the story got started it was very interesting. The author was descriptive, but not overly so. For those young readers that enjoy dinosaurs it will be especially fun to read. My son didn't care for the first chapter because it described the area that was to be the central location of the story. He wanted to get into the story itself. Once the story got started he didn't want to stop reading. I was disappointed to see that there have not been any additional books written to follow this one. It would be a perfect beginning to a short series.