Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Dinosaur Tales

I was inspired to read this next book by a look at a really massive book about the animation of Ray Harryhausen (Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life, by Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton).

That book is Dinosaur Tales by Ray Bradbury (iBooks, 2003) and counts as eight entries in the Short Story Project for 2005.
The book was something of a mixed bag. There are two poems, of which one (What If I Said: The Dinosaur's Not Dead) was much better than the other (and the illustration by Gahan Wilson better than the other illustration). The strongest stories were A Sound of Thunder (soon to be a major motion picture; given the length of this story, no doubt it will be heavily padded) and The Fog Horn (incorporated into another motion picture). Both are excellent examples of Bradbury's style at its best.

Tyrannosaurus Rex was inspired by an incident in which Ray Harryhausen (who wrote a good, if brief, foreword) was insulted by Hollywood. Ray Bradbury gets his revenge.

I did not care for Besides a Dinosaur at all. A boy wants to be a dinosaur when he grows up and manages to annoy the household. His grandfather channels his interests into another subject. I found the story to be quite a bit cynical. Would the author of this story be recognized by the author of a wonderful tale from Dandelion Wine in which a boy finangles a new pair of sneakers out of a shoe salesman so he can have adventures all summer?

The book is a reprint, it was first published in 1983. I don't know whether the illustrations had been in color in the first edition or not. In this edition, some illustrations work, some do not. The cover and interior illustrations by Williams Stout are wonderful. Others don't work because they are spread out over two pages (and are partly hidden by the spine crease) or are a bit subtle (and may have lost something when they were reduced).

The book contains: Foreword (Ray Harryhausen); Introduction (Ray Bradbury); Besides a Dinosaur, Whatta Ya Wanna Be When You Grow Up? (illustrated by David Wiesner); A Sound of Thunder (illustrated by William Stout); Lo, the Dear, Daft Dinosaurs! (illustrated by Overton Loyd); The Fog Horn (illustrated by Steranko); What If I Said: The Dinosaur's Not Dead (illustrated by Gahan Wilson); Tyrannosaurus Rex (illustrated by Moebius).