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Dinosaurs, Martians, and mystery, oh my! Fans of Michael Buckley’s NERDS and Dan Gutman’s Genius Files will love this hilarious, action-packed adventure series. What would life...
Dinosaurs, Martians, and mystery, oh my! Fans of Michael Buckley’s NERDS and Dan Gutman’s Genius Files will love this hilarious, action-packed adventure series. What would life be like if you were part dinosaur?
When you’re part Stegosaurus life can be a little crazy. (Yes, sleeping with plates is weird. No, dino-human hybrids do not have second brains in their butts.) But Sawyer’s life is normal(ish) — until he’s yanked aboard a UFO and sent on a mission to Mars.
Sawyer, Elliot and Sylvie travel to Mars to find her missing father, but they find even bigger trouble. Mars is trying to kick Pluto out of the solar system. And the fate of both planets will be decided by the upcoming Pluto VS Mars soccer match. Of course.
It’s an intergalactic mess, and only Sawyer can save Mars, defend Pluto and protect the galaxy…
“You thought your day at school was rough. Try being half dinosaur. Dinosaur Boy is a hilarious adventure and as sharp as a stegosaurus's tail, with twists and turns on every page...fantastic.” —Nathan Bransford, author of Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow
“Funny, fast-paced, and filled with surprising twists, Dinosaur Boy is a charming story about friendship, bullies, dinosaurs,and learning to live with being very, very different. The ending will have boys and girls roaring for more of Sawyer’s adventures, and possibly wishing for their very own dinosaur genes!” —Nikki Loftin, author of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy and Nightingale’s Nest
There are lots of cool things about being part stegosaurus.
Trying to get a decent night’s sleep isn’t one of them.
I used to sleep on my b...
There are lots of cool things about being part stegosaurus.
Trying to get a decent night’s sleep isn’t one of them.
I used to sleep on my back like a normal person. But now that my back has seventeen hard plates on it, that’s no longer an option. Neither is lying on my front, since my back is so heavy that it’s hard to breathe when I’m flat on my stomach. Curling up on my side sort of works, but I have to wedge myself into place with tons of pillows so I don’t accidentally roll over and squash my plates. And who can sleep when they’re practically drowning in pillows?
One night, I even tried to sleep standing up. They say that real stegosauruses might have done that. But real stegosauruses had four legs. I only have two, so let’s just say the mechanics didn’t exactly work out.
My latest attempt at a comfy sleep position came courtesy of my grandfather. He used to be part stegosaurus himself (until he took the cure). He told me that when he had dinosaur parts, he never had a good night’s sleep either. Until he visited Dubai where he saw a camel kneel in the sand, tuck its legs underneath its body, and take a nap.
I figured it was worth a shot. So last night I got down on all fours in the center of my bed, tucked my knees under my chest, stretched my tail out behind me, and rested my cheek on a stack of pillows.
It must have worked. Or maybe I was just really tired. But either way, I was still in that same position when my mom came in and woke me up early the next morning.
I couldn’t figure out why she was telling me I had to get up and go to school. It was a Saturday, after all. And by my count, I still had two days of winter break left.
“It’s a makeup day,” she explained, waving her phone in my face. I blinked and caught a blurry glimpse of her inbox. “The school is legally required to add an extra day to make up for the ones you missed because of the flooding last month.”
“They can just end vacation early like that?” I asked. My dog, Fanny, made an irritated noise from her place at the end of my bed and rolled over, curling herself back into a ball. “On a weekend?”
“I guess so,” my mom said. “There’s a notice on the school website and they sent an email reminder late last night. We’re lucky I didn’t miss it!”
“Lucky” wasn’t exactly what I was feeling, especially when I caught sight of the bright-yellow assignment sheet on my desk.
“Mom! The paper!”
As homework over break, Ms. Filch had assigned us to figure out what our “passion” was and write a paper about it. I had spent so long staring at the assignment sheet that I now knew the definition of “passion” by heart:
Passion (noun): a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something
I’d spent the entire break trying to figure out a topic, but nothing had come to me. I had gone to bed last night thinking I had two more days for inspiration to strike, but that didn’t seem to be true anymore.
My mom patted my tail sympathetically.
“I know you’ve been trying, Sawyer. I’ll write Ms. Filch a note and ask if she’ll give you an extension. Now hurry! You don’t want to be late for the makeup day!”
• • •
As I trudged to school, I tried to put my finger on what was so complicated about figuring out my passion. It wasn’t that I didn’t have strong feelings about things. Of course I did. There were plenty of things I enjoyed: I liked playing fetch with Fanny; I liked going fishing with my dad; and ever since my herbivore dinosaur gene had kicked in, I really liked salad. But all of those things seemed too boring to be my “passion.”
Nobody else seemed to think the assignment was hard. My best friend, Elliot, wrote his paper on basketball. Which made sense, since basketball was hands-down his favorite thing in life.
Our other friend, Sylvie, had so many passions that she outlined three different versions of the paper before she finally decided on the topic, My Hero: My Dad. Sylvie hadn’t seen her dad in a while. In fact, she’d been trying to get in touch with him for months now, ever since she first came to our school at the beginning of the year. The whole thing is complicated by the fact that Sylvie’s dad is a Martian. So is Sylvie. (Well, a half-Martian since her mom is an Earthling.)
I didn’t play any sports. And I didn’t have divorced parents who lived on separate planets. So neither of their topics really helped me.
I probably should have just lied and said that I was really passionate about something like stopping global warming. Or Italian food. Ms. Filch probably would have believed either of those. But I would have known it was a lie. And part of me thought it might actually be important to have a passion. I was really annoyed I couldn’t think of one.
At least I had my note for Ms. Filch, so I probably wouldn’t get in trouble. She’d give me an extension and I could put off worrying about my passion until another day.
But I still had to go to school. On a Saturday. That felt like punishment enough.
• • •
A crowd of kids was gathered on the grass in front of the entrance to our school’s administration building. It was easy to spot Elliot and Sylvie in the crowd. Elliot, because he was a head taller than everybody else. Sylvie, because her traffic-cone orange sweatshirt made her stick out like a beacon.
“What’s going on?” I asked them, double-checking the end of my tail to make sure that all four of my spikes still had a tennis ball skewered onto the tip. My school was fairly strict about that, and I couldn’t really blame them. Each of my spikes was a foot long and razor sharp. Without the tennis balls, I was a lethal weapon.
“The school’s locked,” Elliot answered. “None of the teachers are here.”
“That’s weird,” I said as Sylvie yawned hugely. Her curly brown hair looked even poufier than normal today. Only Elliot and I knew that she did that on purpose to help hide the two antennae she kept pinned tight to her head with barrettes.
“What’s weird is that every fifth grader is here, but practically no one else,” Sylvie said, waving her hand at the kids standing all around us. She was right. There were a couple of fourth graders and a few sixth graders floating around, but everyone else I could see was in fifth grade like us.
Things got even weirder a couple of minutes later when a car squealed into the parking lot and Principal Kline jumped out. I hardly recognized him at first, probably because he was wearing long shorts, a T-shirt, and flip-flops. He also had a bit of a beard going on, like he hadn’t shaved in a couple of weeks.
Not that I’m complaining about Principal Kline. As far as I was concerned, he could wear whatever he wanted as long as he wasn’t planning to sell any of my classmates to intergalactic rare pet dealers (like our last principal). But since he almost always wore khakis and collared shirts to school, I was guessing he hadn’t planned on coming in that day.
I was right.
“Everyone!” Principal Kline said, commanding our attention from the top step of the administration building. “I’m afraid there’s been a mix-up. Last night, an unauthorized user gained access to the school’s administrative account and sent an email to all the fifth-grade parents. Our school website was also tampered with. There’s no school today. It’s not a ‘makeup day’ or anything like that. Please sit tight while I send out a corrected email and call all of your parents. It might take a while.”
“The school got hacked? Who would do that?” Sylvie asked. From all of the chatter going on around us, it was obvious that everyone was asking each other the same thing.
Elliot and I both sighed.
“Orlando must be back,” I theorized.
“He’s early this year,” Elliot pointed out.
“Who’s early?” Sylvie asked, crossing her arms. She hated not being the one who figured things out.
I pulled out my phone, but its battery was dead.
“Quick,” I said to Elliot. “Check the school Wi-Fi.”
Elliot dug his phone out of his pocket. Usually there was only one Wi-Fi network available on school grounds: JACKJAMESELEMENTARY (password: JackJames). Now there was still only one. But its name was: ORLANDOTOTALLYROCKS.
“Yeah, that’s usually the first thing he does,” I said.
“Who’s Orlando?” Sylvie asked.
“Orlando Eris,” I told her. “He’s in our class, but you haven’t met him yet because he lives in San Diego with his dad for the first half of every year. He only comes home to Portland after winter break.”
“Orlando’s obsessed with practical jokes,” Elliot added. “He even runs a blog. See?”
He angled his phone so Sylvie and I both had a perfect view of a website called Prankster King Orlando. Beneath the obnoxious red title and a big cartoon crown was today’s blog entry: a live-stream video of the front of a school, with dozens of kids gathered on the lawn.
It was us. Orlando was live streaming a video of us.
The shout came from Allan Huxley, who was also looking down at his phone. Until recently, Allan had been my greatest enemy at school. But we had come to an understanding after Sylvie and I saved him (and a good portion of the rest of our class) from taking a one-way trip to Jupiter. It’s kind of a long story, and we still weren’t exactly friends, but Allan and I had managed to coexist in relative peace for quite some time now. He hadn’t called me Butt Brain in three months and counting.
But hearing him yell like that still sent a chill down my plates.
As if on cue, the video feed paused and a picture of Orlando popped up in front of it. He looked exactly like I remembered him from last year: a black-haired, pasty-skinned kid in big glasses. He grinned at the camera and slowly held up a sign.
DID YOU MISS ME?
“Jerk!” Allan yelled again. Without warning, he started running toward a Dumpster on the edge of the grass, just as a small, bespectacled figure with a video camera in one hand darted out from behind it.
Principal Kline took off after them about a second later, running awkwardly in his flip-flops. Most of our class members, including Elliot and Sylvie, started cheering Allan on at the top of their lungs.
But I didn’t. I was too busy thinking a rather out-of-place and very annoying thought: Orlando Eris may have been a jerk, but at least he had a passion. He probably wouldn’t have any trouble writing his paper.
“Kids will roar for 'Dinosaur Boy Saves Mars'...Oakes twists her tale with almost-possible plotlines that will appeal perfectly to young SF fans; by the time they get to the big l...
“Kids will roar for 'Dinosaur Boy Saves Mars'...Oakes twists her tale with almost-possible plotlines that will appeal perfectly to young SF fans; by the time they get to the big laboratory scene (which was where I got hooked), they'll be stomping around for even more from Sawyer, Sylvie and Elliot.” - Las Vegas Review Journal
“Deft stimulus for both brains and funny bones.” - Kirkus
Length: 8 in
Width: 6 in
Weight: 0.00 oz
Page Count: 224 pages