BEAUTIFUL (FANTASTIC) BOOKS
THE FANTASTIC FLYING JOURNEY AND THE FANTASTIC DINOSAUR ADVENTURE
Some of the things you remember from your childhood aren't quite as good when you share them with your children. But something, and so far books seem to be a safe bet, are possibly even better.
The night before we went to the Natural History Museum the images from the Great Dinosaur Adventure flashed into my head - I have to get a new copy of this book for Sally was obviously the next thought. And you can't get the dinosaur adventure sequel without getting the original Flying Journey.
They took ages to arrive and I had to order them from a secondhand bookseller. I didn't even remember that they were written by Gerald Durrell, but 'of course' was on my lips as the author popped up on the search. I didn't really know who he was as a kid, my memory is of the fantastic adventure in the enormous hot air balloon Belladonna visiting animals all around the globe.
The illustrations and the story are just as beautiful than I remembered them. As I child I thought they were magical but now I can see that they are genuinely beautiful pictures.
The story begins when Great Uncle Lancelot arrives to collect Emma and her twin brothers Ivan and Conrad and take them adventuring with him on a hunt for his brother Percival who's gone missing. The protestations of their mother are pushed aside, (what about school? in a balloon?) and she's sent for a holiday in London whilst her children gallivant around the world.
They meet all the animals you would expect and some you wouldn't, but you also get lots of little lessons in natural history - plovers cleaning crocodiles' teeth, honey badgers and their bird helpers, hibernation and a hundred other things. It's a really, really beautiful book, and though Sally is a little on the young side for it and I'm having to abbreviate bits and explain others, she is enjoying it as well as revelling in it being a big book rather than her normal rather shorter picture books. (It has also stopped her from asking where the big book of fairy stories that went in the recycling is!)
We are currently about three quarters of the way through the Flying Journey and I am already excited about starting the significantly more preposterous Dinosaur Adventure. In this, Great Uncle Lancelot returns with Minidonna attached to Belladonna - he has invented a TIME MACHINE. Well, actually it might be his brother Percival who also made the special potion that enables them to talk to all the animals on the first adventure, I can't remember. Anyway, some nasty criminals have got their hands on this invention and have gone back in time to capture dinosaurs to sell to zoos. Lancelot, Emma and the twins must charge after them and stop this travesty. We get to meet lots of Dinosaurs. Yay.
So - if you can get your hands on copies of them, do it. All the stars. I might now have to go dig out some more Durrell books, Gerald, Lawrence - love them both.