Spotlight and Review: Dinosaur Boy by Cory Putman Oakes

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dinosaur boy by gary putman oakes

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.

Description taken from Goodreads. I received an advance copy of this book, to be release February 3rd, 2015, via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own. 

DINOSAUR BOY started out interesting, to say the least. I wasn’t quite sure what to think of it, with people calling it ‘the next WONDER’ and all.

Here’s the thing: I’ve read non-traditional books about bullying. I’ve gone through extremely not-THIRTEEN REASONS WHY books about bullying. I have never read a book like this before.

DINOSAUR BOY cuts right to the chase. It’s not a book about bullying, it’s a book about a (half-dinosaur) boy who gets bullied, and they turn out to be entirely different things, and not just because the boy is half dinosaur. It’s funny and whimsical without being overwhelming. It’s well-written and heart-wrenching without killing someone (or an animal) or being overly dramatic. I haven’t read a middle-grade book I’ve enjoyed this much in awhile, and all of those authors debuted years ago. Now, with Cory Putman Oakes, I have another author to keep my eyes on.

DINOSAUR BOY was a bit predictable. I didn’t LOVE it in the beginning, but as time went on that became less and less of an issue for me, and I definitely don’t think middle-grade readers and lower will mind. DB is goofy and wacky while being humorous to both an adult and a young kid, and that wasn’t even it’s biggest selling point. While it isn’t perfect, I loved this book and just how weird it gets at times. It addresses hard-hitting, very real topics in the world today without being childish or exhausting, and I would recommend it to both boys and girls. 4.5 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 224

Here’s some things other people had to say about DINOSAUR BOY:

“With issues like bullying, not fitting in, and heroism…it’s Wonder with dinosaurs and is sure to touch your heart.”

— P. J. Hoover, author of Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life

“A wild and wacky adventure…with enough twists and turns to rival a roller coaster, Dinosaur Boy is sure to appeal to wonderfully weird kids of every shape and size.”

— Kelly Milner Halls, award-winning author of In Search of Sasquatch and Dinosaur Mummies

“A delightfully zany and terrifically fun story.”

–Greg Leitich Smith, award-winning author of CHRONAL ENGINE and LITTLE GREEN MEN AT THE MERCURY INN

Funny, fast-paced, and filled with surprising twists…a charming story that will have boys and girls roaring for more…and  possibly wishing for their very own dinosaur genes!”

–Nikki Loftin, author of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy and Nightingale’s Nest

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

An entertaining barrel ride past sheaves of middle-grade themes from bullying to racial identity.


Credible characters and real-life issues like bullying, appreciating differences, and being true to oneself keep Oakes’s (The Veil) series kickoff grounded…Oakes draws on everything from the dubiousness of zero-tolerance bullying policies (especially when they’re being used to ship students to Jupiter) to the importance of tolerance and the injustice of discrimination to create a story with unexpected depth

– Publishers Weekly

Oakes emphasizes the effects of bullying and peer pressure. There are also plenty of fun science and sci-fi ideas woven throughout. The trim size and plot-driven pacing make this an ideal recommendation for reluctant readers…A fun and funny read with layers of deeper issues”                                                            

       –School Library Journal

An excerpt from DINOSAUR BOY: 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: ROOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAARRRRRR!

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!”


Amazon | B&N | BAM | Indigo | IndieBound

Connect with Cory Putman OakesWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

cory putman oakes

Cory Putman Oakes lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, kids, and pets. She knew nothing about dinosaurs before she started writing this book, but now she can tell a sauropod from a theropod. She also makes a mean mole sauce. You can connect with Cory on Twitter and Facebook, and you can learn more about her (and her books) on her website


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