Literature: The Fantastic Flying Journey

The Fantastic Flying Journey is a children's book by Gerald Durrell, illustrated by Graham Percy. It tells the story of the Dollybutt children, Emma, Conrad and Ivan, and their adventures around the world in their Great-Uncle Lancelot's balloon, the Belladonna, as they search for their missing Great-Uncle Perceval, who vanished two years before while studying gorillas in Africa. Along the way, the children and Lancelot talk to the various animals they meet with the aid of a mysterious grey powder, an invention of Perceval's which enables them to communicate with animals.

There is also a sequel, The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure, in which Lancelot and the children travel back to the time of the dinosaurs in pursuit of the evil Sir Jasper Collywobble.


This series provides examples of:

  • Animal Stereotypes: Some are Played Straight, some are Averted and some are Deconstructed - see specific ones below.
  • Author Avatar: Great-Uncle Lancelot's appearance and mannerism resembles Gerald Durrell a lot. In the Hungarian translation he's even renamed Great-Uncle Gerry.
  • Bamboo Technology: The Belladonna runs entirely on this, and is even made of bamboo.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The Scolosaurus in The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure
  • Carnivore Confusion: Mostly averted in the first book, where many of the carnivores (e.g. Killer Whale, Polar Bear and Boa Constrictor) are acknowledged to be carnivores, but are very friendly with the main characters. Played entirely straight in the second book, where all carnivores (Coelophysis, Tanystropheus, Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex) are villains, trying to eat the main human cast.
  • The Dragon: Throttlethumbs in The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: Sir Jasper Collywobble. He goes back in time for the greatest trophies.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The reason why the sequel focuses entirely on them.
  • Gentle Giant: So many examples. Gorilla, Elephant, Blue Whale, Killer Whale, Polar Bear, Bison and Boa Constrictor in The Fantastic Flying Journey; Plateosaurus, Diplodocus and Scolosaurus in The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure.
  • Green Aesop: It's a Gerald Durrell book after all.
  • Killer Gorilla: Discussed, and then ultimately averted with Gorilla. He first appears hostile, but just tries to scare the humans away, and becomes rather friendly once he learns the humans don't mean any threat.
  • Rhino Rampage: Rhinoceros is one of the more antagonistic animals.
  • Savage Wolves: The wolves attack a herd of musk oxen; the heroes drive them away with fireworks, but discuss that the wolves aren't evil, just hunting for food.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Played straight with Tyrannosaurus rex, Allosaurus, Diplodocus, Triceratops and Plateosaurus. Averted by most of the Triassic fauna, such as Coelophysis, Tanystropheus (although, as mentioned above, it is not a dinosaur) or Phytosaurus, and using Scolosaurus instead of Ankylosaurus.
  • Time Machine: In the sequel.
  • Translator Microbes
  • World Tour: The original book.


Alternative Title(s):

The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure