October 6, 2010 by wordofmousebooks
I've always been fascinated by those who build models. Any type of model elicits the same type of curiosity; it is not what they create but why they do it.
As a painter, I understand the need to make tangible things from the ideas floating around in one's head. The creation process is all about taking the interesting parts of your brain or thoughts and translating it into a form that others can see. The thing about models is that it's more often not made up stuff. Usually they are replicas of things that would be either impossible or near impossible to create on your own in your own home/backyard thus the miniscule model serves a vicarious purpose; bringing to life something you are interested in but most likely will never see in person.
I both admire that drive and sort of don't get it! Why not just visit the real thing or leave it in your head where it doesn't require infinite amounts of patience and tiny little bottles of glue? I think the whole idea is bringing to life what sparks your curiosity, at your own hands. Besides kids love making the impossible, possible!
That's why they will love Feather Brain by Maureen Bush (ISBN: 9781551438771, Orca Young Readers, 2008). In this tale, Lucas loves dinosaurs and gets to take his obsession to new heights when he creates some model dinosaurs that come to life! If you loved the movies Night at the Museum or Jurassic Park you will love this book!
Lucas is a dinosaur nut who lives and breathes everything to do with the creatures from long, long ago. He would be a fascinating guy to talk to except he has no friends because the class bully Kyle has decided to pick on him and everyone fears the malevolent Kyle!
So when he gets a new book on making models and papier-mâché glue from a dinosaur-making kit he hopes his new creations might score him some friends. He certainly gets more than he bargains for and then some. He also gains the most unlikely friend!
This is the perfect book for any dinosaur lover aged 9 to 12 or any reader who loves to indulge in the flights of fancy. This is also a perfect book for any middle grade reader who might be struggling with fitting in and perhaps being bullied.
I love that Lucas is so passionate about what he is interested in and uses that as a way to make friends; I think that's a great lesson. I also think his character is quite crafty not just in his model-building capacity but also in taking care of his issues with his new charges and his schoolyard angst. I really like books that show children being resourceful and making decisions.
All this helicopter parenting has taken away a lot of kids abilities to problem-solve because they are hardly ever given the chance to do so anymore and I really enjoy reading about young protagonists that do this (bonus that his parents aren't dead either, his mom is just a tax accountant!)
I find the Orca Young Readers series has a lot of interesting characters that solve normal everyday school issues in clever ways (great lesson) while finding themselves in unusual circumstances (keeps it entertaining) and I really like that!
Bush loved reading and writing as a child but did other things (history degree and a Master's in Environmental Design, working as a public involvement consultant — I would love to know what that is — and training as a mediator) before turning her hand to writing. Other talents: she has a certificate in Creative Writing and has made two-thirds of a knitted sock for the movie Shanghai Noon (it's a shame that there is no mention for her almost-formed sock in the credits! I checked!)
She was inspired to writer Feather Brain from a book she read on dinosaur model making. The front cover has a dinosaur that seemed to leap off the page and then she began to imagine "what if?" I love on her website she says: "What if? is my favorite question. It gets me into all sorts of trouble."
I should have that made into a T-shirt and wear it every day, it's so me too!
Bush is also a mother of two and the Calgary-based author of Crow Boy and The Nexus Ring. Her new middle-grade novel, Cursed! Is due out this month so watch for it as it promises the humorous and fanciful fun of this tale!
Don't forget you can also get younger readers engaged in more advanced stories by reading aloud to them — this would be a perfect book to read aloud as it's so fun!
An interactive supplement to the BCTLA's professional journal - the Bookmark
Feather Brain is a delightful story for all those readers who love dinosaurs.
Maureen Bush's main character, Lucas, has few friends but is content reading and learning about dinosaurs. With his birthday money, Lucas orders a book about dinosaurs and a kit for making your own dinosaur. When they arrive he's both excited and disappointed. The book is great, but the kit only holds a small glass tube filled with liquid. What could the liquid in the glass tube possibly do? Lucas is soon to find out.
From this point on, there is lots of fun and excitement as Lucas's model dinosaur comes to life. Young readers will enjoy all the ups and downs that Lucas experiences as the creator and owner of a "real, live" dinosaur.
Author Maureen Bush's book Feather Brain would make a great read aloud story at the Grade 3-5 level. It would also be an excellent introduction into the study of dinosaurs. Is this story fact or fiction? Why? If you could create a dinosaur, what would it look like and where would you keep it? Oh my, there are so many possibilities with this story!
Recommended for grades 3-5
Reviewed by K. Schweitzer
MAY 1, 2008
There is a sameness to many junior novels, so it is a pleasure to find one with a witty and imaginative plot and a likeable young hero. Such is Feather Brain.
Lucas is fascinated by dinosaurs, so when two parcels arrive, ordered with his birthday money, he cannot wait to rip them open. One is just what he wanted - a book about making dinosaur models; but the other is disappointing. Handfuls of paper and packing unwrap to expose one small glass tube filled with a clear liquid. The instructions are to add this to his model-making mixture. "You will be astounded at how lifelike your dinosaur will become for you."
Indeed Lucas is flabbergasted when his model comes to life before his eyes (but only before his eyes). Next time he will try something a little fiercer...
The story of how Lucas attempts to cope with a vicious little sinornithosaurus, a struggle that eventually engages his worst enemy at school, is fast, imaginative and engaging reading.
JUNE 1, 2008
Feather Brain by Maureen Bush is a fictitious and humourous look at the life of Lucas Clark who is a grade four student in Calgary, Alberta. Lucas has a passion for dinosaurs, however, he has very few friends at school who are willing to share his interests. Indeed, the students do want to share Lucas' passion but are frightened by a bully named Kyle. It appears that Kyle makes the decisions as to who does what with whom at and away from school.
Through the Internet, Lucas buys a dinosaur-making kit that turns out to be much more than he expected. At first, the experiment and creation of a dinosaur is fun. While Lucas proceeds to the next creation, the situation becomes quite serious and frightening. As the story progresses, the reader realizes Kyle's home life is a challenge for him and there are valid reasons for the way he behaves. Lucas beings to understand Kyle and Kyle starts to appreciate Lucas as a friend. Both Lucas and Kyle put their heads together to solve the huge problem that has developed. The issue of bullying disappears among the students and trusted friendships develop.
This book is a great daily read for the classroom. The students will appreciate the humor and will be subtly immersed in issues that are cause for concern by many children.
Lucas loves dinosaurs. His shirts sport pictures of dinosaurs. His bedroom is filled with them. So, naturally, Lucas spends his birthday money on more -a book on making model dinosaurs and a dinosaur-making kit. When his packages arrive, he tears into them, devouring the information in the book and planning out his first model-making project. The dinosaur-making kit, however, is a huge disappointment. It is just a test tube full of clear liquid with an instruction sheet. Lucas tosses it aside. Following the book's instructions, he decides to make a stegosaurus. As he begins layering the papier-mache, he notices the test tube, reads the instruction sheet, and decides to give it a try, using one-third of the solution on his stegosaurus model. When the model dries, Lucas is amazed and proud of how life-like he was able to make it. But when he returns from school and the dinosaur is not where he left it, he realizes life-like doesn't adequately describe what he has. The dinosaur is alive. Lucas is thrilled, and he and "Stegy" become best friends. But when Lucas makes a sinornithosaurus, a feathered monster, as his next project he gets more than he bargained for. This contemporary fantasy in which a dinosaur wreaks havoc in the life of a friendless fourth-grade boy is written in clear, concise language and will appeal to those just starting to discover chapter books, as well as reluctant readers.
Reviewer: Pat Trattles
Author Maureen Bush grabs the reader from the first page and pulls us quickly into a lively adventure. Dinosaur crazy Lucas has ordered two dinosaur items with his birthday money - a book entitled Make-a-Saurus: My Life with Raptors and Other Dinosaurs by Brian Cooley (which, interestingly enough, is a real book with lots of great ideas on how to make dinosaur models) and a dinosaur-making kit from www.howweirdcanyouget.com. The instructions included with the dinosaur-making kit end with these words: "But be warned: what you create is yours for life unless it is stolen from you." The results of Lucas' model building sessions are unusual to say the least. A great adventure story, this book deals with the issue of bullies and problem solving realistically.