Previously, in Dinosaurs Before Dark, Jack finds a mysterious medallion and determines that someone else has been to prehistoric times just like he and Annie have. [Matthew says: Also, dinosaurs.]
Chapter 6: Dinosaur Valley
Jack goes to find Annie and tell her of his astounding medallion discovery. It’s always a great idea to get separated from your sibling when you’ve accidentally been transported to a time when dinosaurs existed and there is a very good chance you’re either going to get eaten or trampled on.
Jack finds Annie pretty quickly, but she runs off again two lines later without paying any attention to the medallion, which is pretty true of the series as a whole because I feel like that plot isn’t expanding on this officially until much farther into the series. [Matthew says: It’s like how House of Night introduces things that don’t get developed until later in the series, except Magic Tree House remembers to put an actual plot in each book too.]
Annie accidentally runs into an area full of dinosaur nests, and one of the mama dinosaurs ain’t too happy.
The huge dinosaur was towering above Annie. Waving her arms. Making her tuba sound.
[Matthew says: I really like how “Making her tuba sound” is its own sentence. It’s weirdly more badass than anything else going on.] Jack, being the badass motherfucker he is, keeps his cool and guides Annie out of the situation with a surprising amount of grace for an eight and a half year old.
Jack stopped. He didn’t want to get too close.
He knelt on the ground. “Okay. Move toward me. Slowly,” he said.
Annie started to stand up.
“Don’t stand. Crawl,” said Jack.
Lord knows if I was at risk of being attacked by a dinosaur I would not be able to keep my cool like that. Jack puts me to shame 🙁
Then Jack makes a suggestion I’m completely unfamiliar with, and you guys will have to tell me if this is actually a thing:
“Stay down,” he said. He crouched next to her. “Bow your head. Pretend to chew.”
“Yes. I read that’s what you do if a mean dog comes at you.”
“She’s no dog, Jack.”
I guess what goes on in the dinosaurs mind is something like this: “AW HELL NO! FUCKING KIDS TRYING TO STEAL MY EGGS? Oh…their heads are down and it appears…ah yes, it appears they’re chewing, so they’re just here to eat. Whew, nothing to worry about here!”
Everything goes according to plan, and the dinosaur’s anger is assuaged. Jack tells Annie in the future she can’t just go running into dinosaur nests because the mother is always nearby. I’m sure this is going to be very relevant advice that Annie can utilize for the rest of her life.
Despite what has just happened within the past five seconds, Annie stands up and approaches the dinosaur, offering it a flower she’d picked earlier. Instead of squashing this moronic child, the dinosaur is like, “Ooooh flower,” and starts waddling after Annie to get more flowers. IN WHAT WORLD? [Matthew says: I also really like how Dinosaur Science in this book boils down to “dinosaurs eat flowers”. Apparently “plants” is a very difficult concept for five year olds.]
Just when you thought this was some perfect utopia where dinosaurs and children could coexist in perfect harmony [Matthew says: But not flowers.], a tyrannosaurus shows up. Cliffhanger!
Chapter 7: Ready, Set, Go!
The children race back to the treehouse, and Jack starts wishing to go home. Annie points out that he doesn’t have the book with the picture of their home town, and Jack is like, “Oh shit, I left my backpack on the hill.” Jesus, Jack, rookie mistake. [Matthew says: Although WHY they suddenly know that they need the books to travel is another question entirely. I go into this a little bit more tomorrow, but basically these kids figure out that the books are what makes traveling between worlds possible with fewer clues than you get to figure out the same thing in Myst.]
The thing is, when I first read this scene I thought his backpack had the other book in it, but no, his backpack has the dinosaur book in it. Here’s why Jack needs to get his backpack so badly:
“Oh, forget it,” said Annie.
“I can’t,” said Jack. “The book doesn’t belong to us. Plus my notebook’s in my pack. With all my notes.”
Look, I’m all for living in a society where children are respectful of other people’s belongings, but come on, Jack. I suppose his notes are pretty valuable and irreplaceable, though, what with such descriptions like, “nice.” [Matthew says: The scientific community will never recover from all of his lost work.]
Jack runs back, grabs his bag, and then starts to run back to the tree house (I guess in prehistoric times everything was in really close proximity), but the tyrannosaurus is blocking the way. OH NO!