When Evie is trapped in the Cretaceous period, she quickly discovers she’ll need to engage with her surroundings to survive.
Evie rescues an egg from being eaten after several terrifying encounters with a variety of dinosaurs. The egg hatches into a pterosaur she names Ada and together they find a way to survive in an abandoned human building. Evie discovers that there are recordings from the building’s previous inhabitant, Jameson, who reports on various nearby food sources such as fruit trees and fish. Jameson also mentions a device known as a temporal communicator that allows the user to communicate across all of time. Unfortunately, it is at their second base. And although Evie finds a map with the second base’s location, it is quite a distance away across a large body of water.
By this time, Ada appears to be an adult, so Evie decides to try flying on Ada to reach the second base. This involves making a saddle and reins, as well as training and practice for both Evie and Ada to adjust to the extra weight and long distances. When they make it to the second base, Ada, trying to help, accidentally dislodges the battery of the temporal communicator that is then scooped up by a water dwelling dinosaur. Evie had been looking forward to apologizing to her moms due to a fight she’d had with them right before she disappeared. Frustrated with Ada, she despairs of ever speaking with her parents again and ignores her companion in her grief. Eventually, she realizes that she is hurting Ada and herself with this behavior, and they find a way to power the communicator.
This book was marketed as How to Train Your Dragon meets Jurassic World, and I can see why. The relationship between Evie and Ada is central to the plot and it contains dinosaurs. What I didn’t know, until almost the end, is that Evie is from a time that has developed time travel, so she isn’t surprised to find a building as much as she is surprised to find one so quickly. However, that isn’t explicitly stated nor is that fact mentioned in the summary, so I was confused at first as to how Evie was able to travel back in time, since the story starts when she wakes up in the Cretaceous period. Otherwise, the story is simple to follow and the colorful illustrations are sure to appeal to the middle grade audience it was written for. The bright colors also convey the hopefulness and resilience of the main character. Darker colors are reserved for night scenes and during Evie’s grief period.
Readers will be happy to know this looks like a standalone with a happy ending and that the dinosaurs are illustrated in the updated form with feathers on many of them. There are also a few pages at the end devoted to labeling the various dinosaurs featured throughout the story. The casual diversity of Evie having two mothers is refreshing and sure to appeal to readers looking for representation that isn’t central to the plot or relationships of the characters. I recommend this for any middle grade collection and especially to middle grade readers interested in dinosaurs or portal fantasy (even though this is technically science fiction).
By Tas Mukanik
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Tween (10-13)
Creator Representation: Canadian, Queer