Cover image for Dinoverse
Ciencin, Scott.
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New York : Random House, 1999.
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282 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
When thirteen-year-old Bertram and three friends find themselves living in dinosaur bodies sixty-seven million years ago, they discover new ways to think about their lives.
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X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

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I was a teenage T. Rex! Survival of the fittest has always been the rule at Wetherford Junior High. So when Bertram Phillips's science fair project sends his mind back 67 million years, he's well prepared. After all, as the class brain, he's learned how to avoid predators. But Bertram's not prepared for his new tanklike, spike-backed Ankylosaurus form. He's become a dinosaur--and so have three other fellow students. Mike, the star quarterback who's never had much of a killer instinct, must wrestle with the hunger pangs of a T. Rex. Candayce, the beauty queen, is forced to suffer the thunder thighs of a Leptoceratops, while the morose Janine now soars blissfully on the wings of a Pterodactyl. With prehistoric perils at every turn, Bertram, Mike, Candayce, and Janine band together to find their way back home in what were once their own back yards. Theirs is an amazing, wildly comical, and very human journey...through the Age of Dinosaurs.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. School brain Bertram designed his science fair project for show, not substance. But amazingly, the contraption works--just not the way Bertram expected--sending his mind back 67 million years and into the body of an ankylosaurus. As Bertram and three schoolmates also caught in the time warp quickly discover, seeing a dinosaur is one thing, being one is entirely different. Kind football jock Mike fights a T. rex's killer instincts; beauty queen Candayce experiences thunder-thighs as a leptoceratops; sullen Janine takes flight in the body of a pterodactyl. Together, the four try to find their perilous way back to the future, overcoming personal differences as well as the unexpected gifts and challenges of their dinosaur bodies. Ciencin blends fantasy and scientific fact for a fresh, fun, and informative read. Distinctive characters, slapstick humor, snappy dialogue, and fast-paced suspense add to the book's appeal; dinophiles will delight in the detailed, realistic descriptions and drawings of prehistoric animals and their habitats, in a book sure to be popular and requested. Includes glossary and bibliography. --Shelle Rosenfeld

Publisher's Weekly Review

Dinotopia fans hungry for more Mesozoic adventure will happily devour this time-travel saga featuring four junior high school students. It all begins at the science fair when whiz kid Bertram's M.I.N.D. (Memory INterpreter Device) Machine zaps him and three classmates (graffiti artist Janine, pretty but vicious Candayce and football player Mike) back 67 million years. After being knocked unconscious, the students awake to find themselves transformed into a motley crew of prehistoric beasts. The serious problem of finding a way to return to the 1990's is lightened considerably by the teens' comic attempts to adjust to their new forms. Bertram, now an Ankylosaurus, is plagued with a chronic farting problem. Candayce is, ironically, turned into a Leptoceratops ("What had happened to her?" she asks herself. "Her thighs were enormous! And she had a pot belly!") The meat of the drama, however, has mostly to do with the foursome's development of survival skillsÄfinding food, warding off enemies and escaping natural disasterÄand their private journeys to discover who they really are on the "inside." Although scientific facts about the era are woven into the plot a little too self-consciously, Ciencin's (Godzilla: Journey to Monster Island) enticing blend of humor, adolescent angst and crisis-a-chapter excitement may hook even reluctant readers. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 10-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Four seventh graders bond and blossom in this novel with a twist. When nerdy Bertram's electronic science project goes haywire, he and three classmates-hunky Mike, rebellious Janine, and catty beauty-queen Candayce-wake up in the Cretaceous Era as, respectively, a tanklike Ankylosaurus, a Tyrannosaurus, a Quetzalcoatlus, and a thunder-thighed Leptoceratops. Thanks to a message sent back through time by their science teacher, they know that to get back they must reach a certain hilltop hundreds of miles away-so off they stomp (or, in Janine's case, soar), discovering one another's redeeming qualities as they work together to escape various perils. Ciencin leans hard on a running gag (so to speak) involving the massive clouds of gas that Bertram's vegetarian diet produces, and the plot is built on contrivances that would trip a Supersaurus. Still, nearly every one of the 42 chapters ends in a cliffhanger, and as the author has done his dino homework thoroughly (a glossary and reading list are appended), the populous prehistoric supporting cast looks and acts as authentically as current theory allows. Fredericks's occasional line drawings don't always agree with the text, but they do give uninitiated readers a sense of what the major beasts looked like. Fans of Alan Dean Foster's The Hand of Dinotopia (HarperCollins, 1999) and like novels will roar over this long but lightweight cousin.-John Peters, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Help meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Candayce Chambers plunged through the dense, buzzing, insect infested woods, monsters at her heels. Things that might have been roaches or rats scurried at her feet, but she didn't look down. She had a sense that other things were watching her from the trees and beyond, but she couldn't concern herself with them right now. Her pursuers were dinosaurs. T. rexes. Just like in the movies. Except--and this would have been the funny part if she'd been in a mood to laugh instead of scream--they were just little guys. Pint-sized! Hah-hah. Big funny. They were trying to kill her! All right, Candayce, she commanded herself, you're going to wake up--NOW! She didn't--so she ran. Branches snapped against her body, but she felt no pain, only a weird bloatedness. Ahead, she saw flashes of brown and green and amber. Tangled roots and soft blue-white daggers of sunlight. She sniffed. The whole area smelled bad. Like a thousand dogs had just been walked and there wasn't a pooper scooper anywhere to be found. Her legs moved awkwardly as she continued her flight. They were strong and powerful, but thick and squat, like stumpy little tree trunks, if that made any sense. Of course, this was just a dream, and dreams didn't have to make sense. Turning, she looked over her shoulder at the rexes heading her way. They were green and gray, their scales spotted and striped with dull purples and yellows. Their maws hung open, revealing rows of glistening, razor-sharp teeth. Saliva sprayed in every direction. The monsters grunted and growled like football players chasing cheerleaders after a winning game. Disgusting! She ran faster than she ever had before, but it wasn't enough. She'd managed to out distance her pursuers by going low and ducking through tangled networks of underbrush where they couldn't follow. But they always caught up. She burst into a wide open area at the foot of a large drop off. Another pair of monsters rose up before her. One was short and squat, covered in spikes. It looked a little like a turtle, only it was about thirty times the size of any turtle she'd ever seen. The other was a giant T. rex. It was easily twice the size of the creatures closing in behind her. She was trapped! No, she wouldn't accept that. Her sensei's words came to her: In a crisis, always do the unexpected. Zig when your opponent expects you to zag. Under normal circumstances, Candayce wouldn't pay a whole lot of attention to the life lessons her sensei imparted. To her, martial arts was just exercise. Punching and kicking. It was trendy, it was fun, and it let her get some of her anger out. But these were hardly normal circumstances, so this time, she listened. Tearing between the T. rex and the big spiked turtle thingee, Candayce was past the monsters and at the bottom of the incline in only a few seconds. She'd been hiking up and down mountains half her life and she wagered the dinosaurs chasing her wouldn't be any good at it. "Candayce, stop, wait!" the club-tail yelled. She froze, but just for a second. It was a dream, so of course the big spiky turtle-looking guy would know her name. Why question any of it? She resumed running, thinking about her therapist. Her therapist got a hundred dollars an hour and part of his duties was helping her dispel bad dreams. He'd given her techniques for guiding the course of her night visions--staying in control of them. None of the tricks she'd learned were working. The nightmarish scene remained in place. "Candayce!" another voice. Mike's voice. It had come from the T. rex. She looked back despite herself. Over her shoulder, she saw Mike--no, that couldn't be right, not even in a dream, it was just too weird--confront the half-sized rexes. He let out a roar that made her sink to her knees and place her hands over her ears. Weird how clammy her skin felt. And dried out. What she wouldn't do for some moisturizer. In fact, all of her skin felt hard and callused. And what was that weird weight she felt on her behind? Something told her not to look, but she did it anyway. A long pastel colored tail stuck out straight between her hips. It was attached to a reptilian-looking spine. Both were mustard yellow with pimento red toppings; stripes on the tail, spots on her back. She looked down at her thighs and nearly gagged. What had happened to her? Her thighs were enormous! And she had a pot belly! And her chest was flat. Not to mention scaly. She had wrinkles and rings and lines and dents! And she was naked! An instant before her mind could give out totally, an idea came to her: Someone had dressed her in a weird costume for this dream, that's all it was. Well, she didn't like it one bit! A chorus of growls dragged her attention away from what was usually her favorite topic--herself. And for once, she was glad. At least for a nano-second, or two. She saw that forty feet away, Mike the T. rex was kicking rocks at the smaller rexes, scattering the monsters. The spiky turtle guy was attacking them, too! He swung his club-tail and a couple of the little guys went flying! Mike roared and slammed his tail onto the ground. The earth beneath Candayce shuddered. She heard a sliding sound from above and turned as rocks trickled down from the incline. He'd started an avalanche! "Yow!" Candayce hollered as the rocks hit her head. Weird how the stones felt so light. They hardly hurt at all when they connected. The "avalanche" ended quickly. She studied the incline. It was constantly shifting. No way could she get a decent foothold. Looking back again, she saw the smaller rexes fleeing. The big one turned toward her. Candayce was paralyzed by his gaze. She wondered if the only reason he'd fought off the other creatures was so that he could have her for himself. For breakfast. You're not going to faint , she told herself, even though her head was feeling light. You're not going to do anything that--that--girly...Do you hear me? Girly? She immediately chided herself. If Mike Tyson was looking at that, he'd be laid out, too! The giant T. rex took a step her way. "Candayce, it's me. It's Mike. You don't have to be afraid." This was too funky. Too much for anyone to expect her to be able to handle. Why couldn't she wake herself up from this bizarro dream? The T. rex came a little closer. The ground shuddered with his approach. Candayce suddenly became aware of two very different sets of instincts within her--and that they were at war. One set of instincts told her to trust Mike. He was always a nice guy. Too nice for his own good half the time, but that was another story altogether. The other set of instincts told her to run like the wind and not look back under any circumstances. One set of instincts was hers. The other--wasn't. Candayce stood still. "Mike?" "It's me. The guy with the tail is Bertram." "But you're dinosaurs." "Yeah. It's going around." Candayce wondered what he meant by that. Then she looked over her shoulder and down at her tail once more. The tail was twitching. She was making it twitch. "Oh my God," she whispered. Candayce held her hands up to her face. They weren't hands. Not exactly. They were scaly paws. Or claws. Kind of. Three sharp fingers forming a--well--a hoof. Like a horse might have. She tried touching her face. The hardened scales were there, too. She had a ridge over her forehead. Like an upturned collar. Her jaws were like a set of pliers, only sharp at the tip. She had some kind of beak or something. Her lips were gone. Her hair was gone. Her pert petite little nose was gone. Her head felt light again. She sank down and landed on all fours. That other set of instincts inside her told her this was a natural position. "Oh," she said. Followed by an "I" then a "what?" followed by a handful of words she never used when other people were around, ending with a strangled tear-filled cry. "I'm ugly and I'm naked and I'm covered with bugs. There are bugs crawling all over me!" "I know, it's annoying." "Annoying? Annoying doesn't begin to cover it! What am I, some kind of animal?" "Actually--" Bertram began. "Shut up! Just shut up!" Candayce wailed. She fell back and squatted, trying her best to cover her chest. "I'm a monster." "Actually," repeated the club-tail as he came forward, "you're a Leptoceratops. A horned dinosaur. Distinguished by the parrot-like beak and the triceratops-like body construction." "No, no, no," Candayce said. "This is a dream and I'm going to wake up." "It's not," Mike said. "It's not a dream. I'm sorry. We're...stuck back here. At least until we can figure out a way back. It's a long story." "No, no, no," Candayce said. In reply, the spiky turtle-like club-tailed meandering know-it-all big lumbering dinosaur thingee said, "Just in case you were wondering, those dinos who were chasing you were Nanotyrannus. Pigmy dinosaurs. There's speculation as to if they're just young T. rexes or if they're a separate genus. Controversy, actually, but with paleontology, that kind of thing happens." "No, no, no," Candayce repeated. She suddenly felt as if her mind was lost in a whirlwind. "Help! Help! I can't fly! Help!" The sharp piercing cry came from above. Candayce didn't look up. She knew that voice. It was Janine. Suddenly, Candayce realized she was trapped. In the past. In the body of a gross little dinosaur. With Mike. And some geek. And Janine, the wicked witch of the eastern flats. "No, no, no," Candayce chanted again. She wanted to run. Only--her feet wouldn't move. Her body wouldn't move. Her eyes just went kind of glassy. No, no, no , she thought. Then she didn't think anything else. And she was happy. Excerpted from Dinoverse by Scott Ciencin, Michael Fredericks All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.