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I saw a T-shirt the other day featuring two tyrannosaurs battling with samurai swords. The image awakened my childhood obsession with dinosaurs, and the next thing I knew, I was knee-deep in a search for outlandish adventure stories involving dinosaurs, ninjas and even some pirates.
'Z. REX' By Steve Cole (Hunting No. 1)
Adam's computer-programmer dad is away for a couple of days to work on an ultra-realistic video game controlled by players' thoughts. Unfortunately, Adam is unprepared for what shows up at his door: a hyper-evolved man-eating dinosaur that can make itself invisible! And by the way, the government is after the dinosaur for its own purposes. Much like a great video game, Z. Rex's gory action sequences and fast-paced chases will keep you up way too late.
'JURASSIC PARK' By Michael Crichton
Publishers Weekly says that Jurassic Park can be read as a "thought-provoking fable about technological hubris and the hazards of bioengineering." You could read it that way, but you really want to read it because it's about an amusement park with real, live dinosaurs. An "accident" happens, the power grid goes down, and the dinosaurs escape from their barricaded areas. To stay alive, kids, consultants and the head of the project have to stay one step ahead of fast-running, terrifyingly intelligent carnivores.
'BLOOD NINJA' By Nick Lake (Blood Ninja Trilogy No. 1)
Taro's father is murdered before his eyes, and he is rescued by a ninja -- a ninja who is also a vampire. Amid a political conflict in imperial Japan, Taro and his mysterious guide escape to safety, and Taro trains to become a ninja himself. Conn Iggulden, co-author of "The Dangerous Book for Boys" calls this "a fast-paced, gripping book with ninjas. It's all I ask for, really."
'DEMONS OF THE OCEAN' By Justin Somper (Vampirates No. 1) In 26th-Century Australia, 14-year-old twins Connor and Grace are separated by a storm and end up on two different ships. Connor soon finds his place among the crew on a pirate ship. Grace's rescuers are more mysterious -- the infamous, bloodthirsty Vampirates, who have recruited her as a "donor."
'TERRY AND THE PIRATES' By Julian F. Thompson
Escaping the threat of boarding school, 16-year-old Terry stows away on a yacht. Soon she finds that the owner's son, Mick, has commandeered the yacht. A storm sweeps Mick overboard and blows the ship to an island inhabited by pirates. (Did you get all that?) Witty and resourceful, Terry makes the most of her odd adventures.
Here's the book I really wanted to talk about. But you can't tell my boss that I told you. OK? Good. Here in the Hushlands, librarians rule, but there is one young man who can stop a global takeover. Brandon Sanderson's "Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians" tells the true story of Alcatraz Smedry, a boy with an extraordinary talent for breaking things. Along with his family and their abilities to fall down, arrive late and speak gibberish (among other great talents), he is nearly unstoppable. His story includes a bag of sand, talking dinosaurs and strange but non-magical powers you probably haven't heard of.