Dactyl Hill Squad

Daniel José Older. Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-338-26881-2
In this delightful historical fantasy set in a Civil War–era New York City in which dinosaurs never went extinct, a diverse band of orphans fight to save their friends from slavers and corrupt authorities. When the Colored Orphan Asylum is burned down during the Draft Riots of 1863, Cuban-born Magdalys Roca and her friends must escape the clutches of Magistrate Richard Riker. They soon find refuge in the Dactyl Hill community of Brooklyn, where they join a growing resistance against racism and oppression. Magdalys has a secret talent: she can communicate with dinosaurs, giving her team the edge they need to rescue their fellow orphans from Riker’s plan to sell them into slavery. In this series opener, Older (Shadowshaper) weaves historical fact with dinosaur-inspired fancy to create a society in which people fly on the backs of pterodactyls, conduct naval warfare with mosasaurs, and use tyrannosaurs as destructive weapons. Rooted in real events and attitudes, and appended with facts about the time, this fast-paced adventure makes for a memorable tale in which numerous characters of color take the lead. Ages 8–12. Agent: Eddie Schneider, JABberwocky Literary Agency. (Sept.) Correction: A previous version of this review misstated the protagonist's last name.
Reviewed on: 07/16/2018
Release date: 09/11/2018
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