"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?

Hardcover, 272 pages
Published on September 11, 2018 by Arthur A. Levine Books
ISBN-10: 1338268813
ISBN-13: 9781338268812
14 Book Reviews
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  • callie_b
    callie_bMonday, October 8, 2018 at 5:37 pm44 stars
    Do you ever wonder what life would be like if dinosaurs still existed? Well, it's reality for Magdalys (pronounced Mag-da-LEES) Rocca. It's 1863 in New York City during the Civil War, and Magdalys lives in the Colored Orphan Asylum. AND DINOSAURS STILL EXIST. They are usually pets or they are part of the army forces. Magdalys is special though because she can talk to dinosaurs WITH HER MIND! There are barely any people who are dinosaur-whisperers and that makes Magdalys extra special. But one night, the city is ablaze. The theater the orphans were watching a show at burned down, and so did their orphanage. A lady named Cymbeline from the theater show helps the kids to safety, and there is A LOT of action. It's totally awesome! But many of the orphans are kidnapped by Richard Riker, the evil magistrate heading the Kidnapping Club. (Yes. That was a real thing!!) Soon Magdalys and her friends must put together the Dactyl Hill Squad, spy for the good side, and find the missing orphans. And on top of all THAT, Magdalys wants to find her brother, who has been injured at war. But she has to take things one step at a time, and with the Dactyl Hill Squad and the dinosaurs by her side, Magdalys will learn what it’s like to be a strong warrior. I thought this book was great! It had a lot of action and adventure, and the author really had me thinking dinosaurs existed in 1863!! I recommend this book to those who like dinosaurs and epic quests, and anyone in between. For ages 8+ :)
    • slytherinfan
      slytherinfanFriday, September 14, 2018 at 3:32 pm55 stars
      At first, the book didn't make very much sense, But, as time progressed, the more I was interested in it. By the time I was finished, I was on the edge of my seat! If I could I would rate it a 6 out of 5.
      • LastWednesday, September 12, 2018 at 4:50 pm
        It's okay
        • jolokaWednesday, September 12, 2018 at 4:11 pm
          • riah babyWednesday, September 12, 2018 at 8:25 am
            this book was good to me.
            • cookieWednesday, September 12, 2018 at 7:48 am
              its ok
              • LucyWednesday, September 12, 2018 at 6:54 am
                I find it okay.
                • jeffdaboss
                  jeffdabossFriday, August 31, 2018 at 4:38 pm44 stars
                  Dactyl Hill Squad was a nice book. It's about an orphan named Magdalys who lives in New York during the Civil War in a time when dinosaurs are still alive. She and her friends go to the local theater, only to be attacked by powerful who want free people of color to be sent back to the South into slavery. They successfully escape and are brought to Brooklyn, where the Vigilance Committee resides. It is there that Magdalys learns about her rare and exceptional ability to mentally communicate with dinosaurs. Using this gift, she teams up with her old and new friends to attempt to take down the evil people who illegally support slavery. This book has an unusual concept, and certain people just won't find it interesting and appealing. Being that the main character is 12 years old, the book is best seen as engaging by tweens.
                  • mybooksandi
                    mybooksandiSaturday, August 25, 2018 at 10:17 am55 starsFeatured
                    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 book? Yes, and I regret nothing.
                    • domosaur
                      domosaurMonday, August 20, 2018 at 2:10 pm55 starsFeatured
                      Magdalys lives in New York, where dinosaurs roam the streets and segregation still prevails. Magdalys is an orphan, and with her other friends, she stays in the Colored Orphan Asylum. There, she missed her siblings dearly, and was also bullied by the matron. One night, when the Crunks are performing The Tempest at the Zanzibar Savannah Theater, many orphans from the Colored Orphan Asylum are kidnapped on their way to the theater by none other than Richard Riker, the magistrate. On that same night, Magdalys notices that Varney, the orphanage's triceratops, seems to be listening to Magdalys, and replying by following her instructions, such as "go". Magdalys and the rest of her friends find refuge with the Dactyl Hill neighborhood, where they train dactyls and plan a way to rescue their friends before it's too late. As well as that, Magdalys strengthens her ability to talk to dinosaurs, which will help a great deal on their quest. Will they save their friends before it's too late? Or will they be gone forever? To find out, read Dactyl Hill Squad, which I give a 4.5 out of 5 stars. I love how dinosaurs were a major part of the story and how interesting/well-thought each character was. I recommend this to anyone who loves a good adventure and dinosaurs.