Montreal-based creator Tas Mukanik’s debut children’s graphic novel is action-packed, and sure to appeal to the dinosaur-obsessed kid on everyone’s list. Lost Time is a vibrant read largely focused on a single human character: Evie, a kid who has been transported, alone, to the Cretaceous Period, and must learn to survive while she tries to make her way back to our present day.
As Evie figures out how to trap fish and avoid her more dangerous, toothy neighbours, she also befriends a newly hatched pterosaur she dubs Ada. One day, while scavenging through the abandoned base of an earlier group of time travellers, she finds information about a place across the ocean, where there might be an inter-era communication device she could use to contact her parents in the 21st century. Of course, she does what any resourceful kid would do in this situation: she builds a saddle and learns to ride her flying friend, in the hopes of crossing the sea and eventually finding a way home. Mukanik’s sequences of Evie and Ada learning to work together as rider and giant, flying steed are full of charm and silly humour – a standout moment in a book with a lot of intrinsic appeal.
A story of wilderness survival and exploration, Mukanik’s visual style is vibrant, colourful, and well-suited to such a brisk adventure. Billed as a middle-grade graphic novel, the pace, density, and simplicity of the narrative place Lost Time firmly on the lower end of that age range, and it will make for an absorbing read for even the youngest of independent readers. Though there are some gestures toward a more complex emotional journey, centred on Evie’s relationship with her parents, Mukanik leaves this aspect of her story under-explored, and the result is that the book’s eventual resolution seems almost secondary, and a bit too pat.
But whatever Lost Time may lack in emotional depth, it certainly makes up for with a ton of great dinosaur encounters. Mukanik’s enthusiasm for her subject matter comes across on every page, as does her research. Readers will meet well-known species such as Tyrannosaurus rex, alongside more recherché dinos such as Thescelosaurus neglectus, all of which are catalogued in a handy appendix. Brought to life with wonderfully kinetic cartooning, and rendered in bright colours, Lost Time gives us glimpses of behaviours and life cycles that will inform and fascinate.
An absolute must-read for dinosaur fans, Lost Time will delight any young readers looking for a quick, fun, adventuresome graphic novel.