The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbek (the version I had as a child was the Avon Camelot, 1985 paperback) by Steve Senn is a book I remember quite well from my early years of reading (although the name eluded me for YEARS). This book also introduced me to Science Fiction. I think I was a curious 9-year-old at the time when I picked the 1985 paperback up at a local bookstore. The sight of a boy waking up next to a dinosaur in the other twin bed in his bedroom – both with shocked looks on their faces – was enough for me to get it.
The story involves a human boy waking up one day in another dimension exactly like his own except this new-to-him universe is populated by anthropomorphic dinosaurs (human-acting dinosaurs). In this other dimension, humans are extinct and the dinosaurs do the exact same things that humans did in Walter’s home dimension. Much time is spent disguising Walter to look like a dinosaur so he doesn’t freak out the dinosaur population. Later the pseudo-science of inter-dimensional time travel is explained down to a fourth or fifth grade level. I remember being utterly fascinated and accepting it all as fact (major willing suspension of disbelief). There isn’t any “magic” involved, but it isn’t ultra-real science either. Just stuff kids can digest. This book made me interested in Fantasy and Science Fiction and shortly after it I was reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series and Piers Anthony’s Xanth series.
Although I had no idea of it at the time, Steve Senn illustrated this book too (he didn’t do the paperback’s cover though, just the inner illustrations). The very cute line drawings were one thing that I really remembered about this book.
In 2009 a local bookstore of mine sadly closed and sold off their inventory. While filling a $5 bag of books I found a green hardcover of The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbek without a dust-jacket. The cover looks like green, bumpy, leathery dinosaur skin (probably just leather-like). It also has an embossed picture on the front board of what looks like a happy dinosaur on it. I had no idea that this book had been in hardcover and my paperback was lost long ago. Of course, I purchased it the green volume. I even put a picture on Amazon of it.
Sometime in 2010, I figured out that Steve Senn is also known as Oscar Senn (I think Steve or Steven is his middle name, but I’ve read somewhere that Oscar is his middle name too). I found his website and wrote him a fan letter. We emailed back and forth and he sent me a picture of the original illustrated (by him!) dust-jacket for The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbek hardcover (since mine was missing a dust jacket). I shared this picture on Amazon too.
The dust-jacket clearly states “Written and illustrated by Steve Senn.” During these conversations, it was pointed out to me that the “happy dinosaur” embossed picture was actually put on the book upside down by the publisher. I turned my copy over, and lo and behold, a very normal looking triceratops!