In the mid-1980s, the Timberland Regional Library branch in downtown Olympia, Washington had a series of books about some children who discovered that a museum exhibit about dinosaurs could transport them back in time to see real dinosaurs.

Things I can remember:

  • There were 3-4 books in the series
  • About 3-4 children were involved
  • The covers were a bright green, similar to the qwantz.com T-Rex
  • The books were slim, probably around 100 pages at most
  • At one point the kids took a camera back in time with them, but the film was fogged and unusable when they returned

2 Answers 2


The series is The Dinosaur Machines by Eve Bunting. The book titles are below.

  • Day of the Dinosaur

  • Escape from Tyrannosaurus

  • The Dinosaur Trap

  • Death of a Dinosaur

Some of the covers can be see here.

  • 2
    Could you describe the plot of the books, to make it easier for us to tell whether this is likely to be a match or not? This post provides some tips on how to write a good story ID answer. May 1, 2021 at 16:27
  • 1
    Per ISFDB: "When one of them pulls the lever on the museum's dinosaur display, three children are transported back to a prehistoric dinosaur land."
    – DavidW
    May 1, 2021 at 16:52
  • Just noting here that I'm the original asker, but I could not figure out at this late date how to complete registration since I asked the question as a guest. This is 100% the series I was thinking of. Thank you, this has been bugging me for decades!
    – Brian
    Jun 4, 2021 at 0:20

This is a partial match for the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne, in which a brother (Jack) and sister (Annie) discover a magic treehouse, enchanted by Merlin (of King Arthur fame), which enables them to travel in time through a series of books within the treehouse. All they have to do is read/look at a part of the book and (IIRC) wish to go there, for them to be transported.

They have a whole series of adventures in both real and mystical times, but there is one book in particular "Dinosaurs before Dark", the very first in the series, in which they are transported to the time of the dinosaurs. There have been a few covers, of which one is below:

Cover of "Dinosaurs before Dark", showing Jack riding a pterodactyl with Annie running on the grass below, and a volcano spewing in the background. The top of the cover is a dark green leaf background with the title and author.

I don't believe that there is a camera involved, but the covers all include some green - brighter in some than others, and there are children involved, though usually just Annie and Jack.

  • I doubt this was it. The method of transportation doesn't match, and there are a lot more than 4 books in this series. I read a whole bunch of these when I was younger and I don't think it matches the OP's description.
    – Mithical
    Jun 15, 2020 at 16:14
  • Yup - that's why I have partial match in the first sentence.
    – bob1
    Jun 15, 2020 at 20:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.