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Make-a-saurus, My Life with Raptors and Other Dinosaurs

by Brian Cooley and Mary Ann Wilson

Here’s a dinosaur book with a twist. It’s written by two artists, one of whom, Brian Cooley, builds life-size dinosaur models for museum exhibits. Writing in the first person, Cooley uses the first half of the book to explain step-by-step how he builds dinosaurs. The second half describes inexpensive easy-to-find materials and allows children to be creative as well as follow a formula. Readers are given choices of materials and procedures for making the armature (skeletal structure) and body details. Directions are also given for building an environmental diorama. Colour photographs help explain the instructions.

While reading page after page of instructions can be pretty dry, the authors make it less so with their conversational style and sense of humour. Thus, lines like “You don’t want your dinosaur to have two right legs, or it will walk in circles” appear in sidebars as well as in the main text. Lengthier sidebars include information about the relationship between artists and paleontologists as well as recent dinosaur fossil discoveries in China and Mongolia. New discoveries are also mentioned in the lengthy introduction. It’s especially fascinating that paleontologists have uncovered dinosaur remains with imprints of feathers on their bodies, causing some scientists to conclude that some dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded.

While the authors recommend that children work with a peer at some stages of construction, I think the friend should be an adult, especially one interested in dinosaurs.