Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time

James Gurney, Author Turner Publishing Co. $29.95 (159p) ISBN 978-1-878685-23-0

Posing as a 19th-century scientist's travel sketchbook, this entertaining hybrid mates the visual appeal of the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady with a Jules Verne-like tale of Dinotopia, a land where dinosaurs and humans coexist. The scientist and his son travel around it, and the son grows up and falls in love. This unimaginative narrative exists mainly as a framework for the copious illustrations, which show breathtakingly exotic but impossible sights, such as a canyon city of people and flying dinosaurs, as well as amusing sketches of domestic scenes. The result is an enjoyable pastiche, full of visual references to cultures from Oz to Thailand and flavored with a Robert Fulghum-inspired philosophy: ``Observe, listen, and learn. Do one thing at a time'' (from the Code of Dinotopia). Though too superficial for the serious fantasy reader, this volume is great fun to browse through, and should find its way on to many coffee tables. 400,000 first printing; BOMC featured alternate; QPB selection; author tour. (Oct.)