A Historical Adventure

September 21, 2018
FROM LEFT: JOHN MIDGLEY; STEPHEN BLUE FOR TIME FOR KIDS

What do you get when you mix orphans, the Civil War, and dinosaurs? Dactyl Hill Squad. In this mash-up of historical fiction and fantasy, orphan Magdalys Roca and friends escape the 1863 New York City draft riots on the backs of pterodactyls.

Author DANIEL JOSÉ OLDER told TIME for Kids that despite the book’s fantastical elements, “it’s based on real events.” During the Civil War, riots began when white men were drafted to fight to free Southern slaves. Many saw the draft system as unfair. In New York City, angry mobs attacked and killed free black people.

Older says the book focuses on the “many amazing stories of heroism and adventure involving people of color at that time.” Why add dinos? “I get to be playful with history!”