Follow that Tiny-Dactyl (Microsaurs Series #1)

Follow that Tiny-Dactyl (Microsaurs Series #1)

by Dustin Hansen

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250090218
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: 01/17/2017
Series: Microsaurs Series , #1
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 559,051
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 800L (what's this?)
Age Range: 7 - 10 Years

About the Author

Dustin Hansen was raised in rural Utah where he spent many days hiking red rock canyons that once belonged to the dinosaurs. After studying art at Snow College, Dustin began working in the video game industry, where he has been following his passions of art and writing for more than 20 years. When not writing or making video games, Dustin can often be found hiking with his family in the same canyons he grew up in, with a sketchbook in his pocket, a new idea in his mind, and a well-stocked backpack over his shoulders.

Read an Excerpt

Microsaurs

Follow That Tiny-Dactyl


By Dustin Hansen

Feiwel and Friends

Copyright © 2017 Dustin Hansen
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-09023-2



CHAPTER 1

ADVENTURE AWAITS


When your dad is the lead inventor for SpyZoom Technologies and your best friend is a skateboarding daredevil, there is no time to lead a boring life. And who'd want that anyway? The way I see it, adventure is all around us — we just have to go out and find it.

For example, just last year Lin and I helped my dad test out his new antigravity sleeping bag. Sure, we woke up on the roof of my neighbor's garage, but that was way more exciting than waking up in the same old bed every day for nine years.

And then there was the time Lin wanted to be a magician. She learned how to saw me in half without leaving a scratch, and she even learned how to make things disappear. Okay, we never found Lin's little sister's Wubby-Bunny, but still — it beat sitting around eating Cheezie-Poofs and watching Electric Knight reruns on TV.

But every year on July 18, our adventuring kicks up to a whole new level. That's when our hometown transforms from a quiet little place in the middle of nowhere to the loudest party on planet Earth.

Overnight the place fills up with skateboarders, news cameras, freestyle BMX riders, and fried-food trucks. Tourists show up to take selfies with the world-famous Ramp-O-Saurus, the tallest and greenest skate ramp in the western United States.

Fans don't just show up for the churros and corn dogs, although that is a pretty good reason. They come for the Under 12 X-treme Games. But this year was special, because the crowd favorite was my best friend, Lin Song.

It was Lin's second year competing in the U12X Games, but it was my first. Okay, so I wasn't actually competing. Ripping a 720 Heel Flip off a concrete half-pipe isn't really my thing. So I found better ways to get involved. For the past twelve months I helped Lin work on her nutrition, mostly by cutting down on gummy bears. I made her a practice schedule that included watching documentaries about flying squirrels, the best long-distance gliders in the animal kingdom. And I helped her beef up her chances with advanced technology and better science. Which totally makes me part of Team Lin. Sure, I'm listed as her coach, but let's face it, I'm way more than just a coach.

I'm Lin's secret weapon.

CHAPTER 2

AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!


I swiped the screen of my dad's hand-me-down smartphone, tapped on the SpyZoom app, and in less than a second I was staring right up Lin's nose. She was futzing with the camera mounted on the top of her helmet. She noticed a little smudge on the lens, licked it, then wiped it clean with her shirtsleeve. I tapped on the earpiece icon to activate the SpyZoom Invisible Communicators, which were basically tiny earbud speakers you slipped into your ear that let you talk wirelessly without anyone noticing.

"So, Lin, how does that camera taste?" I said, and she giggled in my ear.

"Oh hi, Danny. I didn't know you were watching. I was making sure the camera was clean for the big jump," she said. "How does it look?"

"Spotless," I said. I tapped the GPS logo on the bottom left corner of the SpyZoom app, and the video feed of Lin swapped out for a map. A little red dot on the screen let me know that Lin was standing on top of the Ramp-O-Saurus and that she was moving exactly 0.01 miles per hour. "Hey, Lin, check to make sure the Micro-GPS Beacon is on tight one more time for me, would ya?"

"Sure thing," she said. I could hear her messing with her helmet as she made sure that my dad's latest invention, the SpyZoom Micro-GPS Beacon, was taped down on her helmet next to the camera. The video feed on my smartphone went all shaky and wobbly as she messed with her helmet, then she looked right back into the camera. "The beacon looks fine. I think we're ready."

"Sure, except I'm still looking up your nose," I said.

"Maybe you'll like this view better." Lin swung her helmet around, giving me a view of the crowd from the top of the seventy-five-foot-tall Ramp-O-Saurus. And even though my feet were firmly on the ground, I still felt a little woozy as I watched the screen. The crowd cheered as one of Lin's competitors took his final run down the ramp.

"That was Ted Webster, everyone," the announcer said. "Looks like his jump of fifty-two feet, six inches won't be enough to send him to the finals this afternoon. But let's give him a hand before we send him on his way." His voice boomed out of the stack of speakers behind me. I felt every word rumble through my chest. For a split second I wished I could be on top of the Ramp-O-Saurus instead of Lin. But then I remembered that nobody in this entire crowd showed up to watch me get sick on top of a seventy-five-foot-tall skate ramp. Heights and I are not the best of friends.

I looked back at the video. Lin was strapping on her helmet again, and the dizzy way-too-high-in-the-air feeling returned. She looked down at the crowd and I waved. I could see myself on the screen, and I looked like an ant in a red T-shirt.

"You know, I think you may be a little bit crazy," I said to Lin.

"I am crazy, Danny, but it's my own brand of crazy. I'm totally used to it," Lin said.

"All right, everyone, it's the jump you've all been waiting for," the announcer said. The crowd went wild. Someone yelled, "You rock, LIN!" and I heard her giggle in my SpyZoom Invisible Communicator.

"Our last semifinal qualifier for today is a local favorite, Lin Song. She's also our youngest competitor, at just nine years old," the announcer boomed. "Last year, Lin surprised us all by finishing in second place in the Ramp-O-Saurus Long Distance Jumping Contest. But this year she's promised to bring home the trophy."

"You didn't surprise me one bit last year," I said to Lin.

"I surprised myself. I was sure I would win first place," Lin said. "Are you recording this, Danny?"

I tapped a little red circle on the video screen. "I am now. Good luck, Lin!" I said.

"Let's see if we can cheer her on to the finals! 3, 2, 1 ... GO!" the announcer shouted, and the crowd went totally nutso! I was screaming, too, but when you're only nine years old, even if you are tall for your age, it's hard to see over a hollering horde. But that didn't matter, because I had the best view in the crowd. I looked at the screen as Lin launched herself down the ramp.

Watching Lin zip down the back of the Ramp-O-Saurus made my teeth chatter and my hands sweaty. I had to stop myself from running and jumping and throwing fake karate punches just to let off a little of my energy.

The GPS tracker was going crazy, beeping and blinking to tell me Lin had broken her previous speed record: 27.2 miles per hour and going faster every second. She crouched over and tucked down. I crouched, too. I couldn't help it. Then, just as she reached the bottom of the ramp, something reddish-orange whacked into the camera lens.

I yelped and shot straight up in the air. Good thing I was in a crowd of screaming, jumping fans, because I fit right in.

The reddish-orange splat was only on the screen for a split second, then it flew away and all I could see was sky. Then ground, then sky, then ground, then sky — then finally the big pit filled with foam chunks. The crowd roared as Lin finished her qualifying jump.

"WOW, did you see that, skate fans? Lin Song pulled off a perfect Triple Back Flip before she landed in the pit," the announcer shouted.

Lin's voice exploded in my ear. It was so loud that the SpyZoom Invisible Communicator nearly popped right out. "That was ... AMAZING!"

"And it's official, folks. Lin Song's distance is fifty-eight feet, four inches! Which not only qualifies her for this afternoon's championship Ramp-O-Saurus event, but it puts her in second place, right behind last year's winner, B.J. Hooper!"

"You did it! Did you hear that, Lin?" I asked. I tried to make my way to the foam pit, but the crowd was crazy, chanting Lin's name over and over again. I knew she was talking into my SpyZoom Invisible Communicator, but I couldn't hear a word she was saying over the wild crowd. I checked the video feed as a bunch of fans nearly smothered Lin as she climbed from the pit. They rushed her and asked for her autograph. It was pretty much the coolest thing I've ever seen, and I could only imagine how crazy it would be later now that she had qualified for the finals.

I pulled out the checklist I'd prepared for today's qualifying jump. Only two things remained on the list to cross off before I could call it a complete success.

"I'm going to get the celebration corn dogs. See you by the bikes after you break away from your fans. You rocked that Ramp-O-Saurus!"

Lin said something like "extra mustard," and I knew that she heard the message. As I walked to the corn-dog stand, there was one thing I couldn't get off my mind. It was the strange reddish-orange thing that smacked into the camera. I had to know what it was, and I couldn't wait to check the video and do a little research.

CHAPTER 3

FOLLOW THAT SMUDGE


The grass next to the bike racks was cool as I sat down and watched the video of Lin's jump again.

I was munching my corn dog when I noticed something strange on the SpyZoom app. The GPS tracker was telling me that Lin wasn't in the park at all. In fact, according to the app, it looked like she was still zooming along at nearly fifteen miles per hour, right out of the skate park and heading toward the center of town.

I checked the video feed, but that didn't help. It only made things more confusing. Lin was still standing in the middle of a crowd of fans, using a bright blue marker to autograph everything from skateboards to sandwich wrappers. There was something strange going on. I turned the SpyZoom app off, then launched it again, but it was still acting wacko.

"Hey, Lin, your corn dog is getting cold," I said. "And somehow my SpyZoom app thinks you're in two places at once."

"Unless your dad glued a cloning device into my helmet, I'd say that's impossible," she said into the Invisible Communicator. I heard her tell people that was all the autographs for now, using the world's best excuse: cold corn dogs are gross.

I smiled to myself because she didn't know how close to the truth she was. My dad was working on a top secret cloning device in his home laboratory that very day. But it wasn't the cloning device that caused the problem. It was something else, I just knew it. My first thought was that when the reddish-orange thing hit the camera on Lin's helmet, it must have knocked off the GPS beacon, and Lin's jump had so much force that the seed-sized tracking device had been launched down Main Street.

I decided to watch the video and look for clues. I played back Lin's jump and scrolled to the point where the whack happened.

I found the blurry reddish-orange blob, all smooshed up against the screen, and I tapped the screen to pause the video.

"Whatcha doing, Danny? Checking out the second-longest jump in Ramp-O-Saurus history?" Lin said, only this time it wasn't in the SpyZoom Invisible Communicator — she was standing right in front of me.

"You got over here fast," I said as I tweaked the video playback screen.

"What can I say? The threat of cold corn dogs moves me," she said with her hand held out. I tossed her the corn dog and she sat in the grass next to me. "Thanks, but really. Are you checking out my jump?"

"Kind of," I said. "Oh yeah, forgot this." I pulled six packets of bright yellow mustard out of my pocket and gave them to her.

"Thanks again. Getting the second-longest Ramp-O-Saurus jump ever really wears a girl out. Did I mention it was the SECOND-LONGEST JUMP IN RAMP-O-SAURUS HISTORY OF FOREVER?" she said as she squished three packets of mustard on her corn dog.

"Once or twice, yeah." I was moving through the video one frame at a time, trying to find a better look at the thing that smacked her helmet. "Something hit you just before you jumped."

"Really? I didn't feel anything," Lin said through a mouthful of yellow goop.

"Yeah, look at this." I showed her the image.

"Looks like a smudge of ketchup. Ketchup is gross," she said as she opened her fourth pack of mustard.

"Ha. It does look like a ketchup smudge." I forwarded the video a couple of frames and the blob started to take shape. The blurry edges turned into batlike wings and a long, alligator-like snout. It was the strangest creature I've ever seen, and I started to wonder if maybe there was something wrong with the camera. Maybe the whole SpyZoom app was on the fritz.

Then I tapped the video forward one more frame and for a moment I was so shocked that I forgot to breathe.

"Earth to Danny." Lin nudged my shoulder. "Are you okay?"

I blinked. "Um, Lin, I need to show you something, but you're not going to believe it." I turned the screen so she could get a better look.

"Wow, yeah, that's one big cricket," she said, her teeth the color of the sun.

"That's not a cricket," I said. A funny feeling flew through my stomach. It was telling me I was either onto the greatest discovery in the history of histories, or I was going crazy-wacko-loony-nutso. Either way, it was pretty exciting and I had to tell Lin. "I think it's a dinosaur. And not only that, I think it has the GPS beacon in its mouth and is flying out of town with it."

"I hate to break this to you, Danny. I know you're all sciencey and I'm not, but there are two things you might have overlooked. First, the dinosaurs died, like, five hundred bazillion years ago or something," she said.

"Actually, it was only sixty-five million years ago," I corrected.

"Details," she said, then wiped her mouth on her arm, leaving behind a yellow mustard smear. "But the second thing is the biggie, and I know you know what I'm going to say here. The dinosaurs were HUGEMONGOUS! Bigger than elephants. Bigger than whales. Bigger than the Ramp-O-Saurus!" she said, and her eyes went all wide and round when she said Ramp-O-Saurus, because to Lin the green skate ramp was the biggest thing in her life.

I have at least fifteen books on dinosaurs at home, so I'm pretty much an expert on the whole dinosaur subject. I could have given Lin a list of about fifty dinosaurs that were actually smaller than a birthday cake, but she did have a point.

"True. Most dinosaurs were huge, but my dad says that science never sleeps. What if they changed somehow? What if the dinosaurs evolved into something small? Something so small that they could be mistaken for a ketchup-colored cricket, for example?" I stood up, because I had to get my dad's GPS beacon back and I wanted — no, I NEEDED — to see the critter that stole the beacon with my own eyes.

"Let me see it again," Lin said. I handed her my smartphone before I slipped my back-pack on.

Lin studied the image while I tightened my shoelaces. She rotated it and looked at it upside down. She narrowed her eyes and rubbed her chin in a way that meant she was really thinking hard. Then, a surprised grin slowly spread across her face.

"So? What do you think?"

"I have to be back in three hours so I can beat B.J. Hooper on the Ramp-O-Saurus. You know that, right?"

"Oh yeah, I know. So, what are you saying?"

"What I'm saying is, let's go catch a dinosaur," Lin replied.

CHAPTER 4

ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK


Lin and I had cruised up and down Main Street hundreds of times — wait, make that thousands of times — in the past. But today there was no cruising. Today, we RAN, because when you're chasing a ketchup-colored, prehistoric, flying bat-lizard-gator thing, cruising just will not do.

Stopping every block to check the GPS tracker slowed us down a bit, but still it didn't take long for us to catch up to the flying beacon thief.

The little guy led us just outside of town, to an old dirt path that we would have totally missed if we weren't using my dad's SpyZoom technology. Gigantic trees lined both sides of the shady path. They were so old their long, twisted branches reached down to touch the ground.

"I've never seen this place before. It's giving me the creeps," Lin said, and I was glad she said it first, because that's exactly how I was feeling.

"Yeah. It's spooky," I agreed.

Lin slipped around me and started right down the tree-lined path.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

Lin stopped and turned to look back at me. "I like spooky," she said, like it was the most normal thing in the world. "Are you coming?"

All of a sudden my throat felt dry and my legs were wobbly. Before I could answer I unclipped my 0.75-liter, Official Issue, U.S. Army canteen from my belt. "Um, sure, yeah. Of course I'm coming. I just need to hydrate first." I took a swig of lukewarm water, then passed the canteen to Lin. "I like spooky, too," I said. But I'm not sure I was telling the truth.

Lin and I ran side by side down the twisty path until we were both out of breath.

"Are we," she panted, "still going in the ... right direction?"

I checked the GPS tracker. "Yeah, we're so close we could see it any second now," I said.

We tiptoed around another bend in the path and right there in the middle of nowhere was a big iron fence. The space between the bars was so wide you could just about ride a bike through them, but a fence like this meant one thing and one thing only. Stay OUT!

"Dang," Lin said. "That's the oldest house I've ever seen."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Microsaurs by Dustin Hansen. Copyright © 2017 Dustin Hansen. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Dedication,
Chapter 1: Adventure Awaits,
Chapter 2: And the Crowd Goes WILD!,
Chapter 3: Follow that Smudge,
Chapter 4: Enter at Your Own Risk,
Chapter 5: The Secret Barn-Lab-Library Thingy,
Chapter 6: The Microterium,
Chapter 7: The Grass Clump Man,
Chapter 8: The Microsaurs,
Chapter 9: I Have a Theory,
Chapter 10: TAXI!,
Chapter 11: New Friends,
Chapter 12: A View from Above,
Chapter 13: The Plan,
Chapter 14: The Expand-O-Matic 2,
Chapter 15: Crushing It on the Ramp-O-Saurus,
A Video Note from Professor Penrod,
Facts about Pterosaurs,
Acknowledgments,
About the Author,
Copyright,

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