Most of my adult life, I worked as an engineering technician where I focused on technical writing. Other than penning the occasional sappy poem to cheer up a sick co-worker or family member, I pretty much stuck to writing instructional manuals, technical reports, and construction specifications.
Writing a children’s book was always on my bucket list. The problem was, I could never find just the right topic. Then it happened...I discovered coprolite! At first I thought to myself, “Self, what a great gift for kids!” After all, what child wouldn't be fascinated by fossilized dinosaur droppings? Once nieces, nephews, and neighbor children had their very own samples, I began building my own collection.
Initially, I started collecting pareidolia specimens. What’s pareidolia? Have you ever seen animals or shapes in the clouds...or perhaps ink blots during a psychological evaluation? The phenomenon of seeing recognizable images in toast, a corn flake, or something fun like a coprolite is known as pareidolia (par-a-DOH-lee-a). I have fossil poo that contain images of things like a butterfly, a turtle head, a one-eyed cat, and a puppy. When my youngest daughter, Whitney, graduated from college, I was lucky enough to happen upon a piece of fossilized turtle tootle in the shape of a “W.” The expression on her face when she opened her gift was simply priceless!
As my interest matured, so to speak, I began acquiring more serious specimens. I also started participating as a U.S. Forest Service volunteer on dinosaur digs. Turns out, I’m pretty good at finding it...coprolite that is. I began to seriously study coprolites in order to serve as an expert on “doody” at the dig sites.
I wanted to be able to share my ever-growing coprolite collection with kids. Coprolite: A Really Crappy Story, evolved while I was putting together educational material in order to give presentations to school groups. My own children always learned best through humor; I hope yours will too!