Title: Dinosaur Boy
Author: Cory Putnam Oakes
Similar books: Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka
The Mesmer Menace by Kersten Hamilton
Everyone knows the dinosaur gene skips a generation. So it isn’t a complete surprise when Sawyer sprouts spikes and tails before the start of the fifth grade. After all, his grandfather was part stegosaurus.
Despite the Principal’s zero tolerance policy, Sawyer becomes a bully magnet, befriended only by Elliot a.ka. “Gigantor,” and the weird new girl.When the bullies start disappearing, Sawyer is relieved -until he discovers a secret about the principal that’s more shocking than Dino DNA. The bullies are in for a galactically horrible fate…and it’s up to Sawyer and his friends to rescue them.
My Opinion: This is certainly an original concept. Surprisingly, the explanation for dinosaur genes is easy to follow and accept. While Sawyer's dinosaur genetics are an integral part of the plot, they don't overwhelm the reader. Sawyer remains, at heart, an average kid making him and his friends believable, likeable characters. While the plot goes pretty far afield, it follows a logical progression. It also raises some interesting moral and ethical issues. Like the safety concerns surrounding a human dinosaur hybrid in a school, the rights of the individual versus the collective. An entertaining read for young readers, a good starting point for discussion with older kids.
If this sounds like something you'd enjoy, check out the excerpt provided by the publisher below.
“That Stupid T-Rex from Jersey”
“I just want you to know that I know. I know you’re eating them.”
“That’s crazy,” I told him. “You’re crazy. Why would I eat anybody?”
“Because you’re a monster,” Allan told me. “Just like that kid in Jersey. I knew from the very beginning that it was only a matter of time before you went all dinosaur--psycho on us.”
“Shut up,” I muttered. I was so angry my hands were shaking, but I hid them under the table so Allan wouldn’t see.
“Make me,” Allan suggested.
My hands started to shake harder. It wasn’t because I was nervous. It was because I was angry.
“Get out of here, Allan,” Elliot whispered loudly. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Allan didn’t look at him. His squinty eyes, buried beneath his eyebrows, were focused squarely on me.
“Sawyer knows what I’m talking about. He’s a monster. He doesn’t belong in a school. I’m going to prove it, and when I do, they’ll put him somewhere safe. Like in a zoo. Or some lab. Just as soon as they recognize him for the freak he is.”
My hands were now shaking so hard that they were vibrating the table. I couldn’t control myself anymore. I shot to my feet and screamed right in his face:
“Shut up, Allan! You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
At least, that’s what it sounded like in my head.
Out loud, it sounded like:
It was the loudest sound I had ever heard in my life. And I couldn’t just hear it. I could feel it. It shook the entire cafeteria. The tables rattled uncontrollably, and people grabbed for their lunches while also trying to cover their ears. It was kind of like we were all standing really close to a bass speaker, only about a hundred times louder.
I shut my mouth. The sound stopped.
There were about two seconds of silence. Absolute, perfect silence, as all three--hundred--something people in the cafeteria stared at me without moving a muscle.
Then the screaming started.
Every kid in the cafeteria jumped to his or her feet, knocked over their chair, and scrambled for the exit doors. Only Sylvie and Elliot stayed in their seats. Allan, who had been knocked on his butt by my roar, made two failed attempts to get to his feet before he finally crawled away as fast as he could. He was soon lost in the crowd that was fighting to fit through the double doors that led to the quad.
In less time than I would have thought possible, Sylvie, Elliot, and I were alone in the cafeteria.
I collapsed into my chair before my knees could give way. Across the table, Elliot looked sheet--white and shaken.
Only Sylvie looked unaffected. She passed us each a Pixy Stix, and sat back in her chair with a contented smile on her face.
“Finally, some peace and quiet around here!”