Dactyl Hill Squad
It's 1863 and dinosaurs roam the streets of New York as the Civil War rages between raptor-mounted armies down South. Magdalys Roca and her friends from the Colored Orphan Asylum are on a field trip when the Draft Riots break out, and a number of their fellow orphans are kidnapped by an evil magistrate, Richard Riker. Magdalys and her friends flee to Brooklyn and settle in the Dactyl Hill neighborhood, where black and brown New Yorkers have set up an independent community--a safe haven from the threats of Manhattan. Together with the Vigilance Committee, they train to fly on dactylback, discover new friends and amazing dinosaurs, and plot to take down Riker. Can Magdalys and the squad rescue the rest of their friends before it's too late?

Dactyl Hill Squad Details

TitleDactyl Hill Squad
Author
ReleaseSep 11th, 2018
PublisherArthur A. Levine Books
ISBN-139781338268812
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Historical, Historical Fiction, Adventure, Animals, Dinosaurs, Fiction

Dactyl Hill Squad Review

  • Rebecca Roanhorse
    January 1, 1970
    So much fun. A cleaver and entertaining way to introduce real historical events (think Draft Riots and Gangs of New York) to middle grade readers. A mix of historical and contemporary slang keeps the prose fresh and appealing to contemporary readers. Older really upped his game. This is great stuff!
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  • Billie
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not giving this a rating because I am in two very different minds about it. Part of me is all "Yay! Five stars! Historical adventure with a smart, brave girl of color—nay, an entire cast of characters of color— and dinosaurs! Plus, it very sneakily teaches really important history lessons about the North during the Civil War. And dinosaurs!" And the other part of me was all "Two stars because the science just doesn't make sense. I'm not even a scientist and I know that. I mean, if dinosaurs I'm not giving this a rating because I am in two very different minds about it. Part of me is all "Yay! Five stars! Historical adventure with a smart, brave girl of color—nay, an entire cast of characters of color— and dinosaurs! Plus, it very sneakily teaches really important history lessons about the North during the Civil War. And dinosaurs!" And the other part of me was all "Two stars because the science just doesn't make sense. I'm not even a scientist and I know that. I mean, if dinosaurs survived into the 19th Century, that would have had a tremendous impact on the path of evolution for other species. If humans had evolved at all, they would have probably done so very differently and there's a good possibility that things like Shakespeare and the Civil War wouldn't even have happened. I just...the SCIENCE."So, yeah. My inner ten-year-old loved it to pieces. My grown-up brain had serious issues with the world-building. Make of that what you will.
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  • Adriana (SaltyBadgerBooks)
    January 1, 1970
    My review is based on the ARC which was actually given to me by a friend.I loved it! As of this moment it is my favorite middle grade of the year! I really liked that he gave us something fun and educational. I know the lingo is accurate (but he does explain that in the informational section) but it makes sense why he does it!I like that he came up with mini-dactyls and well just mini dinosaurs in general. And that he came up with shorthanded names for these dinosaurs as if they did evolve with My review is based on the ARC which was actually given to me by a friend.I loved it! As of this moment it is my favorite middle grade of the year! I really liked that he gave us something fun and educational. I know the lingo is accurate (but he does explain that in the informational section) but it makes sense why he does it!I like that he came up with mini-dactyls and well just mini dinosaurs in general. And that he came up with shorthanded names for these dinosaurs as if they did evolve with us. He touched on real issues that were happening in that day and age, and made a bunch of kids heroes!I thought this book was extremely fun. And deserves all the attention a middle grade book can get! I will definitely be purchasing a finisher copy! As the ARC doesn't have the illustrations!
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  • Renata
    January 1, 1970
    oh another one I forgot to review earlier! First of all, when I booktalked this in schools kids lost their MINDS about it. It's SUCH a good premise. Civil War + dinosaurs?? Hell yeah hell yeahPLUS ALSO it does such a smart great job of integrating some pieces of Civil War history that aren't as widely taught, plus also a rad trans character! But also just a lot of fun!
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  • Akoss
    January 1, 1970
    @Kidlitexchange #partner - I received a copy of this book from the Kidlitexchange network in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.Released 9/11/18In an unstable world where Black people still had to fight for their freedom and right to be seen as equal human beings (gee that hits way too close to home no matter how I try to spin it.) Magdalys and her friends fight for survival, friendship and family.If you’re a parent or educator reading my review, I recommend you leave your gr @Kidlitexchange #partner - I received a copy of this book from the Kidlitexchange network in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.Released 9/11/18In an unstable world where Black people still had to fight for their freedom and right to be seen as equal human beings (gee that hits way too close to home no matter how I try to spin it.) Magdalys and her friends fight for survival, friendship and family.If you’re a parent or educator reading my review, I recommend you leave your grown up brain behind before you jump into the world of Dactyl Hill Squad. It has dinosaurs and humans living side by side the way we have pets and farm animals nowadays.Once you’ve taken care of that, prepare to be swept in a whirlwind of past paced events, battle scenes and so much more. If I have any “issue” with this book it will be the neck-breaking pace that doesn’t quite allow the reader to soak in the world building.However you will quickly fall in love with Magdalys and her friends and before you know it you will be rooting for these orphans to make Riker regrets the day he decided to make them his new targets.I can’t wait for the sequel.
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  • Lata
    January 1, 1970
    I knew I had to read this when I first heard of this book because 1) dinosaurs, 2) it was written by one of my favourite authors, Daniel José Older. What a hoot this book was! I loved the alternate history where dinosaurs coexist. Unfortunately, all the other horrible things of this time period (1863) also exist, so main character Magdalys Roca is no stranger to racism and the unequal treatment applied to people of colour. After getting trapped in a riot and a barely evading a kidnapping attempt I knew I had to read this when I first heard of this book because 1) dinosaurs, 2) it was written by one of my favourite authors, Daniel José Older. What a hoot this book was! I loved the alternate history where dinosaurs coexist. Unfortunately, all the other horrible things of this time period (1863) also exist, so main character Magdalys Roca is no stranger to racism and the unequal treatment applied to people of colour. After getting trapped in a riot and a barely evading a kidnapping attempt, and a fire at the orphanage she lives at, Magdyls and some of her fellow members of the orphanage escape to Brooklyn. Magdylys and her friends (other children of colour) become involved with a group helping escaped slaves, but also people kidnapped in New York and sent down south to become slaves. The story revolves around Magdylys discovering her ability to converse with dinosaurs, and helping rescue the remaining orphans from the kidnappers.The story's fast, there are several scenes of Magdylys and her friends flying on pterodactyls (yay!), and there's humour, despite the situations the kids find themselves in. Magdylys learns to reach out to her friends, and hone her dinosaur-whispering skills. The ending leads into book two, which I am definitely reading.
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  • Hebah
    January 1, 1970
    I always like to kick my reading year off with something fun, something promising to kick off a reading year. Dactyl Hill Squad has been on my to-read list since it was announced, pretty much, so it seemed like an auspicious start.It's just your average Civil War story centering on a group of orphans of color, one of whom can communicate with the dinosaurs that are used for transport and labor. One night, while protagonist Magdalys and her friends are out at a Shakespeare performance, they get s I always like to kick my reading year off with something fun, something promising to kick off a reading year. Dactyl Hill Squad has been on my to-read list since it was announced, pretty much, so it seemed like an auspicious start.It's just your average Civil War story centering on a group of orphans of color, one of whom can communicate with the dinosaurs that are used for transport and labor. One night, while protagonist Magdalys and her friends are out at a Shakespeare performance, they get separated from their guardian in a mob and--oh, sorry, did you just register the dinosaurs bit? Yeah. If your first response is to question how the dinosaurs survived and what major world-altering consequences that would have, this probably isn't the book for you because it's never really explained, just taken as a fact of the world, with an added dose of magic in Magdalys's ability to communicate telepathically with the giant beasts. If you're still in touch with your inner child or know a child of chapter-book-reading age whose immediate response is "Whoa, dinosaurs, COOL!" then pick this one up.For that matter, Dactyl Hill Squad isn't really your typical Civil War story either, ignoring the obvious dinosaurs in the room. This one is set in New York and kicks off with the real-life-inspired Draft Riots, when white New Yorkers, upset at the prospect of being drafted to a fight that might end slavery, rioted and destroyed buildings in black neighborhoods, including the Colored Orphan Asylum, rendered here in fictional form. The key villain in the story is based on a real person, Richard Riker, who sent free blacks south to slavery on minimal or insufficient evidence. Notes following the story explain the historical inspirations for people, places, and events in the story, and I'm not too proud to admit that I wasn't familiar with a lot of his inspirations.All of which is to say, yes, Dactyl Hill Squad does engage with issues of race, but at a level suitable for middle-grade readers and dealing with concepts that young readers of color already probably have some firsthand experience with. When Magdalys and her crew are taken in by the Vigilance Society, she's awed, "like she'd discovered a whole new kind of saint over the course of the night, these brilliant, fearless heroes who looked like her and were ready to do anything to make the world what it should be instead of what it was." This right here is why we need diverse representation in stories, so children can see heroes that look like them (and also so others can see heroes who *don't* look like them being awesome), whether that's swooping across rooftops on dactylback or making triceratops fart jokes. (Yeah. That happened. I giggled.)I'm not the intended audience for this, as an adult, but I still had a blast as these heroes rode dinosaurs, dodged bad guys, and wisecracked with their friends the whole way. And I will absolutely keep this in my back pocket as a rec for reluctant readers.
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  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    Different with a capital D and super fun! Kids are going to eat this series up. Civil War in an alternate America with all the action in this volume in New York City. Dinosaurs are domesticated in this world and our orphaned heroine has a telepathic link to them that enables her to direct their actions and win their loyalty. Issues of race, class and prejudice are threaded through the story and well integrated. The dinosaur battle scenes are wildly entertaining and the villains completely despic Different with a capital D and super fun! Kids are going to eat this series up. Civil War in an alternate America with all the action in this volume in New York City. Dinosaurs are domesticated in this world and our orphaned heroine has a telepathic link to them that enables her to direct their actions and win their loyalty. Issues of race, class and prejudice are threaded through the story and well integrated. The dinosaur battle scenes are wildly entertaining and the villains completely despicable!A satisfying conclusion here but the ending also leads right into the next installment.Back matter includes information on dinosaur species and notes on weapons and "words" including the use of modern language with period slang defined.Lots of fun!
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  • Chris Coolman
    January 1, 1970
    Dactyl Hill Squad is one of those books that tells you to hold tight and then floors the accelerator. The action is well written and paced perfectly while set among Civil War era New York. Wait.. it's also full of Dinosaurs. I'll get back to that in a minute. This was my first read of a book by Mr. Older and I'm in. I love how he knits historical fact into the story line giving the book the feel of the era. The lead character, Magdalys Roca, is one of the strongest female characters I've come ac Dactyl Hill Squad is one of those books that tells you to hold tight and then floors the accelerator. The action is well written and paced perfectly while set among Civil War era New York. Wait.. it's also full of Dinosaurs. I'll get back to that in a minute. This was my first read of a book by Mr. Older and I'm in. I love how he knits historical fact into the story line giving the book the feel of the era. The lead character, Magdalys Roca, is one of the strongest female characters I've come across in a long time, and that is true of all the women in this book. They are truly brilliant.I'll admit that at first I had a hard time with the dinos and that was purely due to the funk of the book I had read prior to this one. The further into it I got I became more enamored with the idea and would love to see a movie version. I'm also glad to see there were no punches pulled with the casualties in the story. It's rare that a children's book deals with death and injury in such a way, but it fits well with the story, and the turbulent time the book is set in.I can't wait to read the next installment, and dig into some of Mr. Older's other offerings.
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  • Natalie
    January 1, 1970
    Release date - September 11, 2018I was drawn to this book by the unique premise. Dinosaurs and humans coexist, and both the North and the South are using dinosaurs in the Civil War. They are used in place of horses, to deliver mail and to fight or attack. The main character Magdalys (Mags for short) is an orphan who discovers she can communicate with the dinosaurs, and becomes involved with the war effort. When I read that she could communicate with the dinosaurs, I was imagining that the book w Release date - September 11, 2018I was drawn to this book by the unique premise. Dinosaurs and humans coexist, and both the North and the South are using dinosaurs in the Civil War. They are used in place of horses, to deliver mail and to fight or attack. The main character Magdalys (Mags for short) is an orphan who discovers she can communicate with the dinosaurs, and becomes involved with the war effort. When I read that she could communicate with the dinosaurs, I was imagining that the book would have a bit of Eragon-and-Saphira vibe to it, where the dinosaurs talk to Mags, but in actuality, it’s more that Mags can sense their feelings and emotions. I was hoping for more of a friendship between the two species, but that wasn’t really the case. I liked Mags, and admired her desire to find her brother and her other siblings to reunite her family. I wish the book had done more with the historical aspect. I did enjoy the notes at the back, but there were only a couple of passing references to famous Civil War battles. I would have liked a little more history, but that’s my personal preference. I had trouble keeping track of all the orphans, since they were all introduced at roughly the same time, and they used nicknames and their real names. I loved Miss Josephine and wished she were in the story more. Her sass was great!It also teaches a lesson about race without being obvious. Overall, this was cute, and I’d probably give it 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    Historical fiction with dinosaurs? The combination just barely works (IMVHO) - the history occasionally got short-shrifted because the dinosaur part needed to be worked in. Luckily there are author's notes about the Draft Riots, the Colored Orphan Asylum, the period slang and dinorsaurs to help fill in blanks and point readers to additional information.ARC provided by publisher.
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  • Dayna
    January 1, 1970
    I wish this book had existed when I was a kid, who loved both sci fi and historical fiction. (I also wish there were grown-up books with this concept!) Basically, dinosaurs are alive and well during the US Civil War, and are used for carriages, mail, war, and more; and some people have empathic/telepathic connections with them. Set during the July 1863 draft riots in New York City, it follows Magdalys and her friends from the Colored Orphan Asylum as they deal with the aftermath of the riots and I wish this book had existed when I was a kid, who loved both sci fi and historical fiction. (I also wish there were grown-up books with this concept!) Basically, dinosaurs are alive and well during the US Civil War, and are used for carriages, mail, war, and more; and some people have empathic/telepathic connections with them. Set during the July 1863 draft riots in New York City, it follows Magdalys and her friends from the Colored Orphan Asylum as they deal with the aftermath of the riots and their friends being kidnapped to be sold into slavery. It was a fun romp that I think speaks to a wide audience of kids. It’s a complete story but also sets up the possibility for a sequel. My only complaint is that modern language/slang is a bit jarring— funny that I have no issues with suspension of disbelief with dinosaurs being alive, but the slang took me out of the story— but overall, an enjoyable book with a fun concept and diverse representation. Thanks to Scholastic for providing me with an ARC at the American Library Association conference!
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  • Llyr Heller-Humphreys
    January 1, 1970
    4.75. Absolutely excellent middle grade novel that mixes historical fiction and... dinosaurs.Some of the scenes were incredibly heartbreaking, but written in a way that middle school aged kids will get a lot out of both the history and the adventure.
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  • Joy Smith
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this combination of alternate history and fantasy. I found the premise especially interesting because back in school I researched and wrote a paper on the Civil War draft riots in NYC and the burning of the Colored Orphan Asylum. Some of the events, places, and people are based on reality--including black theater and the main villain--and some are fiction, including the dinosaurs. Sounds like lots of research on the different kinds of dinosaurs and their temperaments though! The charac I enjoyed this combination of alternate history and fantasy. I found the premise especially interesting because back in school I researched and wrote a paper on the Civil War draft riots in NYC and the burning of the Colored Orphan Asylum. Some of the events, places, and people are based on reality--including black theater and the main villain--and some are fiction, including the dinosaurs. Sounds like lots of research on the different kinds of dinosaurs and their temperaments though! The characters--the orphans and others--are interesting, and you get caught up in their every day lives--and the danger. Magdalys, our heroine, has the gift of communicating with the dinosaurs, and the courage to use that gift and fly to the rescue of her friends when necessary. Yes, this is an exciting ride. And be sure to read the author's notes about the history and the real people too.
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  • Briana
    January 1, 1970
    Initial Thoughts: I loved the premise of this one (dinosaurs during the Civil War era!),but the writing left something to be desired. The pacing was off and things would happen very suddenly, and some things were so outrageous (but not in a good way) that I couldn't believe they actually happened. There's also not as much of a Civil War tie as I really wanted, but that's a personal opinion. I do like the historical notes in the back of the book about both the war and dinosaurs. Finally, the dial Initial Thoughts: I loved the premise of this one (dinosaurs during the Civil War era!),but the writing left something to be desired. The pacing was off and things would happen very suddenly, and some things were so outrageous (but not in a good way) that I couldn't believe they actually happened. There's also not as much of a Civil War tie as I really wanted, but that's a personal opinion. I do like the historical notes in the back of the book about both the war and dinosaurs. Finally, the dialogue is very modern, which is another pet peeve of mine in historical fiction. I don't expect 100% 1860's sounding language, but I can do without characters saying things like "Let's roll up to the building."
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  • Martha
    January 1, 1970
    Daniel José Older is important for a lot of reasons, and two of them are the creation of brown world in a MG book and the existence of a heroic trans kid in that world. And not only is the world of the book almost without white people, when they are around they're often the villains (which is an excellent reversal of the trope that has demonize non-white people in fiction basically forever), and almost always involved in the slave trade. I admire and appreciate Older's willingness to talk about Daniel José Older is important for a lot of reasons, and two of them are the creation of brown world in a MG book and the existence of a heroic trans kid in that world. And not only is the world of the book almost without white people, when they are around they're often the villains (which is an excellent reversal of the trope that has demonize non-white people in fiction basically forever), and almost always involved in the slave trade. I admire and appreciate Older's willingness to talk about slavery and gender identity in a book for kids, because I would imagine those are topic from which less writers would shy away. As usual, he does both with frankness and sensitivity, and our world is a little better for another of his books being in it.
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  • Jennifer Mangler
    January 1, 1970
    I love that Older has created a book with an entire cast of characters of color set during the Draft Riots, but the dinosaur stuff lost me. Then again, I'm not the target audience. I'm not sure how I feel about "historical fantasy" as a genre. I can see where this fantasy element could be very attractive to a middle grades reader, and if that pulls them into a book that deals with race relations in the North during the Civil War, then all I have to say is, "Yay." I just hope the readers of this I love that Older has created a book with an entire cast of characters of color set during the Draft Riots, but the dinosaur stuff lost me. Then again, I'm not the target audience. I'm not sure how I feel about "historical fantasy" as a genre. I can see where this fantasy element could be very attractive to a middle grades reader, and if that pulls them into a book that deals with race relations in the North during the Civil War, then all I have to say is, "Yay." I just hope the readers of this book pay attention to Older's notes at the end that discuss the real history of this time and place. Despite my dislike of the dinosaur element, I did enjoy the book, mainly because Magdalys is a great protagonist and I really did love every member of the Dactyl Hill Squad.
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  • Jeannie
    January 1, 1970
    We all know that there were never dinosaurs during any part of human existence and definitely not during the Civil War. Older's addition of these "characters" makes this fantasy exciting and opens some history to younger readers. His notes at the end of the book are very important, explaining what was real and what fictions he used. In 1863 there were draft riots in New York. The participants took their fury out on blacks in Harlem and elsewhere. This gives today's students a deeper understandin We all know that there were never dinosaurs during any part of human existence and definitely not during the Civil War. Older's addition of these "characters" makes this fantasy exciting and opens some history to younger readers. His notes at the end of the book are very important, explaining what was real and what fictions he used. In 1863 there were draft riots in New York. The participants took their fury out on blacks in Harlem and elsewhere. This gives today's students a deeper understanding of how some Northerners did feel about the war and unfortunately about blacks. The children in the Colored Orphan Asylum and other blacks were not safe and could be kidnapped and sold into slavery. There is lots of action, adventure and character development. This is just the beginning of a good series.
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  • Candice
    January 1, 1970
    Fun middle grade novel that puts orphan kids riding on dinos fighting human trafficking during the Civil War. I would have liked to get to know the characters a bit better, as this book was heavily plot driven, but it is the first in a series, so maybe we'll get to know the characters better as it goes along. Overall, it was fun and full of action and adventure, and I think kids who like dinosaurs and history would love it!
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  • Lesley Burnap
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting concept...fighting slavery with dinosaurs! MC is a compelling female teen-I want to know more about her story! Oh, and she can communicate with dinos & terras! Great role model! For grades 4/5+ due to content, violence, including a lynching (afterward is described). Amazing author notes, especially the section that told about basis/ background for some characters.
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  • Meg
    January 1, 1970
    Oof. Very mixed bag. The detailed notes at the end of the book describing what certain people/places were based on honestly interested me more than the rest of the story. Although Part 3 was by FAR the best part, it took a long time to get there and the writing style left a lot to be desired. This took me three months to get through.
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  • Clare Lund
    January 1, 1970
    A strange and fascinating story that imagines life during the Civil War... with dinosaurs. Magdalys and the rest of her courageous squad risk their lives to save their fellow orphans from a kidnapper with an evil plan, based on a real-life villain from the 1800s. I recommend this unique adventure for ages 8 and up!
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  • Hilary Martin
    January 1, 1970
    Wow... this book has dinosaurs, the civil war, lost orphans, secret societies and more. It's fun and educational but parents and teachers would be wise to chat with their kids about the material as slavery and racism are major themes. There is also a scene where the orphans find a dead body. Pretty heavy stuff for a middle grade novel but I have no doubt kids can handle it.
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    Weirdly, this reminds me of Harry Potter (in all the best ways): scrappy, unlikely kid heroes using magic to team up together to fight injustice. Great writing, fun plot, plenty of action, and just-right level of historical events (Civil War!) woven in to make it interesting.
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  • Shoshana
    January 1, 1970
    Very fun, solid middle grade.
  • Mary Lee
    January 1, 1970
    So much fun! Civil War and...dinosaurs! I was going to complain about the modern language, but in the back matter (engaging and informative), the author says yeah, I took some liberties with the dialogue. So okay. Can’t wait for book two so we can find out how the Dino-wrangling main character saves her brother.
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  • Bethany
    January 1, 1970
    Actual Rating: 3.5 StarsAction-packed middle grade adventure that re-imagines Civil-War era New York City with dinosaurs! This is a great blend of real history and dinosaur fantasy that I think a lot of kids are going to love. There are even detailed notes at the end of the book giving more info about the history and other books to read! Plus we get a young black heroine from Cuba who can talk to dinosaurs with her mind, which is really fantastic. Magdalys is an orphan living in New York's Color Actual Rating: 3.5 StarsAction-packed middle grade adventure that re-imagines Civil-War era New York City with dinosaurs! This is a great blend of real history and dinosaur fantasy that I think a lot of kids are going to love. There are even detailed notes at the end of the book giving more info about the history and other books to read! Plus we get a young black heroine from Cuba who can talk to dinosaurs with her mind, which is really fantastic. Magdalys is an orphan living in New York's Colored Orphan Asylum just as racial tensions are exploding in the city and war rages down south. The Kidnapping Gang has been rounding up black children and adults and selling them into slavery (based on real events) and has captured most of the other orphans from the asylum. She and her friends (the Dactyl Hill Squad) must ride dinosaurs and try to save the other kids before they are shipped away. Reading this as an adult, I found the plot to be fairly predictable (though certainly full of action!). However, I love this as a way of teaching little known history and found the world with dinosaurs to be fun and whimsical. Highly recommend to teachers. This is a little on the violent side for a middle grade novel, although it isn't ever gruesome. There are fight scenes and the kids discover a man they knew who had been lynched, but even those aspects use historical information. Overall, a very cool idea that is perfect for a middle grade audience, but might not be such a great crossover for older teens and adults. I received an ARC for review from the publisher at BEA. All opinions are my own.
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  • Lana
    January 1, 1970
    Who knew I would love this book this much.To be honest, it seemed really random at first; orphans in 1863 running away from the Kidnapping Club on dinosaur back? Yep, I was unsure.But as the book progressed on it just got better and better, and not a lot of authors can pull that off.This book was about Magdalys Roca, an orphan from the Colored Orphan Asylum who is being targeted, among others, by an evil magistrate, Richard Riker. As the story wore on I actually got curious and searched who Rich Who knew I would love this book this much.To be honest, it seemed really random at first; orphans in 1863 running away from the Kidnapping Club on dinosaur back? Yep, I was unsure.But as the book progressed on it just got better and better, and not a lot of authors can pull that off.This book was about Magdalys Roca, an orphan from the Colored Orphan Asylum who is being targeted, among others, by an evil magistrate, Richard Riker. As the story wore on I actually got curious and searched who Richard Riker was, apparently he was really a magistrate who hated colored people.Everything about this book is gripping. The main character herself is really lovable and sharp. The way Daniel Jose Older interpreted dinosaurs and the civil war was nearly impossible but it all came together in a very creative way that I LOVED.So yeah, did I underestimate it? Yes and I'm ashamed. Is it my new favorite child? Yes, and I regret nothing.I received an ARC from DogoBooks, this has not influenced my opinion.
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  • Jocelyn
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsFull video review of Dactyl Hill Squad and Charlie Hernández and the League of Shadows can be found here. This is the unapologetic historical-sci fi middle grade mashup of my dreams. All of the characters are black and brown (finally! because poc have always existed though you wouldn't know it from the way some people go on) and dealing with weighty and urgent issues. Orphans of color, already an ignored and abused group, are being purposely hunted down by the oppressive powers at be. 4.5 starsFull video review of Dactyl Hill Squad and Charlie Hernández and the League of Shadows can be found here. This is the unapologetic historical-sci fi middle grade mashup of my dreams. All of the characters are black and brown (finally! because poc have always existed though you wouldn't know it from the way some people go on) and dealing with weighty and urgent issues. Orphans of color, already an ignored and abused group, are being purposely hunted down by the oppressive powers at be. Magdalis and her friends are aided by adults (yet another refreshing addition we don't see as often as I'd like for this age group) who understand their predicament. This is a story about love, friendship, courage, and survival in a world where all the odds are stacked against you. And there are also dinosaurs.
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  • Ricky
    January 1, 1970
    I think this is Older's first MG book? Whatever the count of MG books he's got, this one's one of his best by far. It's a concept that's unbelievably imaginative, a historical fantasy centering black and brown kids in 1863 New York, fighting a society that even though there aren't supposed to be slaves in New York, it's still racist af and there's one Magistrate Riker (for whom Rikers Island was not, in fact, named, per Older's author's note) who's looking to capture as many black people as poss I think this is Older's first MG book? Whatever the count of MG books he's got, this one's one of his best by far. It's a concept that's unbelievably imaginative, a historical fantasy centering black and brown kids in 1863 New York, fighting a society that even though there aren't supposed to be slaves in New York, it's still racist af and there's one Magistrate Riker (for whom Rikers Island was not, in fact, named, per Older's author's note) who's looking to capture as many black people as possible and sell them as far south as possible. (And I'm not just talking the Deep South either.) But there's one secret weapon the people of Dactyl Hill can use to really stick it to their white oppressors: dinosaurs. It's perhaps the most unique and unforgettable steampunk twist since Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy, and for that, I'm here to get this book in the hands of as many kids as possible who cross my path.
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