Cover image for Dactyl Hill Squad
Title:
Dactyl Hill Squad
ISBN:
9781338268812

9781338268829
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
256 pages : illustrations, maps ; 22 cm.
Summary:
It is the summer of 1863, and as the Civil War rages between dinosaur-mounted armies down south, and a tense New York City seems on the brink of exploding into riots, Magdalys Roca and the other children at the Colored Orphan Asylum are trying to survive; but when she receives a letter telling her that her brother Montez was wounded, Magdalys knows that somehow she must reach him--and just possibly her ability to communicate telepathically with dinosaurs may come in handy.
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Summary

Summary

"An unforgettable historical, high-octane adventure." -- Dav Pilkey, author-illustrator of the Dog Man series

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?


Author Notes

Daniel José Older is an American. He writes fantasy and young adult fiction. His debut novel was Half-Resurrection Blues which is the first book in his urban fantasy series, Bone Street Rumba. His other books include Salsa Nocturna and Shadowshaper. His short stories and essays have appeared in various print and online media. He is co-editor of the anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. He also facilitates workshops on storytelling. Formerly he worked as an emergency medical technician in New York City. He is a musician and member of the soul quartet Ghost Star.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

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 Roja 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.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book Review

In an 1863 NYC roaming with dinosaurs, Magdalys, a Cuban girl from the Colored Orphan Asylum, narrowly escapes kidnapping by magistrate Richard Riker (based on a real kidnapper of black New Yorkers). Magdalys and her remaining friends find safety in Brooklyn's Dactyl Hill neighborhood, where they train for a courageous dactyl-back rescue of their fellow orphans. Real history is dressed in appealing fantasy in this new adventure series. Includes ample historical notes. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

Magdalys lives in the Colored Orphan Asylum in 1863 Manhattan, in an alternate history where dinosaurs are as common as birds and as useful as horses. When the orphanage is destroyed, she and her peers (along with a few grown-ups) are thrust into the dark world of fugitive slave kidnapping and work together to stop a corrupt magistrate and the shadowy Golden Circle. Older's rousing mix of actual history and dinosaurs will be irresistible to the upper-elementary and middle-school crowds. Situated in the midst of the Civil War, the story has action and fight scenes aplenty, and Older touches on serious subjects like government corruption, fugitive slaves, and Magdalys' magical ability to communicate with dinos. Magdalys is a stalwart hero, never wavering in her quest to save her friends. The unresolved story line about one of her slightly older siblings is a convenient indicator that the Dactyl Hill dino-riding team will return for more adventures. Endnotes separate fact from fiction and add details about the dinosaurs, weapons, and limited slang used in the book. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Following Shadowshaper (2015), Older has become a big name in kidlit, and this seems poised to keep him at that level.--Cindy Welch Copyright 2018 Booklist


School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-This epic, alt-history fantasy, set during the U.S. Civil War in July 1863, opens with a disgruntled Magdalys Roca, angry that the Colored Orphan Asylum matron demands she answer to the name Margaret Rocheford. Her immediate dilemma: Should she continue to resist the woman and miss the all-black cast performing a Shakespearean show, or should she attend with the rest of her friends? This is readers' first glimpse of the brave Afro-Cuban protagonist who lives in a dinosaur-filled world, where living in the North does not assure safety due to a booming international slave trade with the South. Unable to resist the lure of the show, Magdalys rushes to join the group, suddenly discovering a new power: the ability to communicate telepathically with the dinosaur pulling the wagon. This skill, combined with quick thinking, help her save several of the children when the theater and orphanage burn down, and to ensure they escape to the safe haven of Brooklyn. The children immediately become involved with the Vigilance Committee, serving as spies and watching Manhattan Kidnapping Club members who supply the slave trade. This first book in a series takes place within a few action-packed days, ending as the Squad prepares to leave on new mission to locate Magdalys's older brother, a Union soldier wounded in dangerous New Orleans. VERDICT This high-energy title is perfect for middle graders, with its strong female protagonist, a fresh perspective on history, helpful notes and resources, and an honest portrayal of the complex topics of race and gender.-Ruth Quiroa, National Louis University, Lisle, IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

Magdalys Roca and her fellow orphans ride dinosaurs and solve mysteries in Civil War-era New York City.It's Manhattan, July 1863, and dinosaurs are a part of everyday life. While a group of children from the Colored Orphan Asylum are seeing a play, riots break out on the streets. Their orphanage is burned down and the other orphans kidnapped. The children find refuge in Brooklyn, learn how to ride pterodactyls, and, as the Dactyl Hill Squad, work with the Vigilance Committee to save their asylum mates from being sold South as slaves. Afro-Cuban Magdalys also has personal mysteries to solve, but nothing is easy when it involves Richard Riker, the evil, white city magistrate behind the kidnappings. Magdalys, used to fending for herself, finds it difficult to be a team player, but her newly discovered ability to communicate telepathically with dinosaurs makes her invaluable. In the end, not only does Magdalys save the day, but she eventually grows to appreciate being a part of a team. Pertinent historical social issuesstill very much relevantare woven into the story. Useful notes explain much, including the use of some modern language. Though the pacing is uneven at times and development of side characters is minimal, this action-packed historical-fantasy adventure should have wide appeal, leaving fans eager for the next installment. Dino-fueled fun with depth. (Historical fantasy. 8-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Excerpts

Excerpts

"This book is true fire. It is everything I didn't even know I needed." -- Jacqueline Woodson "This is the story that would've made me fall in love with reading when I was a kid." -- Tomi Adeyemi 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? Excerpted from Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel José Older All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.