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Time Flies by Eric Rohmann
Time Flies
Crown Books, 1994
ISBN: 978-0-51759-598-5, hardcover
Dragonfly Books, 1997
ISBN: 978-0-51788-555-0, paperback
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013
Time Flies
by Eric Rohmann

A wordless time-travel adventure and a meditation on the scientific theory that dinosaurs were the evolutionary ancestors of birds.

The New York Times Book Review called Time Flies “a work of informed imagination and masterly storytelling unobtrusively underpinned by good science ... an entirely absorbing narrative made all the more rich by its wordlessness.”

From Eric:

“This was my first book and it’s no surprise that it’s about dinosaurs. I’ve always been fascinated by dinosaurs, great monsters that ruled the earth so long ago that they feel like science, mystery and myth all rolled into one. When I decided to write the book I recalled myself as a boy, walking into the Great Hall at the Field Museum in Chicago, the massive Albertosaurus skeleton looming above. Back then I wanted the dinosaur skeletons to move like animals in a zoo. I still do. So I wrote a book.

The book began with words but I found, as I made the pictures, that the words and images were saying the same thing. So I let the pictures talk by themselves.”

Reviews Awards

School Library Journal
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

From Booklist
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.
— Carolyn Phelan

Kirkus Reviews
Cinematically, lightning strikes an ecclesiastical-looking building even before this wordless book's title spread, on which a bird flies into its barrel-vaulted hall. But this is no church: the figures that top these columns are Mesozoic, not medieval, while the dinosaur skeletons in the otherwise empty space suggest a surreal museum. As the bird flies from the ancient bones toward their shadows, cast by the lightning, it's transported (in an arresting visual segue) to the dinosaurs' era. Several entrancing spreads later, it flutters away from a mild-eyed giant to confront one less benign. Snapped up, it flutters down a gullet — and out past airy ribs, into the museum. Rohmann gives the excursion compelling immediacy by using intense colors and arresting points of view. In his 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.

Caldecott Honor, 1999

Caldecott Honor for Time Flies

ALA Notable Book

New York Times Book Review Best Children’s Book

Colorado Children’s Book Award nominee

Illustration from Time Flies. Copyright Eric Rohmann

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