I just got done reading this and I loved it. From a scientific standpoint, the information is accurate. Ignoring the fact that it is written for younger audiences, it serves as a wonderful general reference on the subject of coprolites. It even dispels the myth that the term "Coprolite" is a pejorative in the scientific literature aimed at Edward Drinker Cope- something I'm constantly trumpeting at the museum I work for.
It's also hilarious. I caught myself laughing out loud several times. If you've ever met a paleontologist, you know that they are particularly fond of scatological humor, and this book plays right into that. I plan to give out several copies this year for Christmas. And I'll also keep a copy on hand as a bathroom reader.
My kids loved this book! In fact, the whole family did! It is remarkably informative, combining such diverse disciplines as history, mineralogy, biology without straying from its main themes (paleontology and scatology) –all imparted in digestible rhyming couplets.
The book was simultaneously fun and educational. I learned both the definition and correct pronunciation of the word siliceous (it rhymes with delicious!). Even my son, who seems to know everything about dinosaurs, learned some things from this book. Neither of us, for example, knew about sharks and their spiral valves or how sulfate-loving bacteria can make glittering poo-pyrite (or ‘pool’s gold’ as the author calls it). My kids even learned some Greek from this book to add to their already vast assortment of English euphemisms for feces.
The illustrations on every page are as playful as the text, including a hilarious scratch-and-sniff and hidden pictures (note to parents: wait until your children have found the hidden corn on each page before you start reading out-loud, otherwise they will interrupt the lilting and lovely meter with shouts of ‘THERE it is!’). There is also a lovely section in the back with photographs (and more quirky illustrations) in gorgeous color showing coprolite samples of both herbivorous and carnivorous origin.
I highly recommend this book for anyone, especially kids, combining, as it does, 2 of childhood’s favorite themes - dinosaurs and doo-doo! Adults too should appreciate the information dense knowledge the book shares in its lilting and lovely style. Unless you’re overly prudish about something healthy people DO do at least once a day, this book should appeal to you!
Coprolite: A Really Crappy Story is a children’s education picture book written by Lori Gesch and illustrated by her and Michael Dunne. The author’s subject is poo, and she delves into more science and scientific fact about that subject than one would ever dream possible, while at the same time entertaining the reader in this funny and thought-provoking book about excretion. Gesch discusses the actual science of poo study which is called scatology. She explains how scientists are able to identify scat droppings and the animals that produce it by the indigestible items found in it, such as seeds, fish scales and bones, and the shapes of the droppings. The really interesting poo is fossilized stuff from dinosaurs, which is called coprolite. Gesch shows the reader how poo actually becomes fossilized, and how it’s identified. She even has a picture of a famous table made in 1834 that has a top made of coprolite cross-sections from rock nodules collected by William Buckland, a coprolite collector. Gesch also includes an appendix of Fossilized Fecal Samples and a Glossary of Turds.
Lori Gesch’s giggle-producing children’s picture book, Coprolite: A Really Crappy Story, is more than just a funny book about poo. Cleverly disguised within the witty rhymes, wildly creative illustrations and corny jokes is an impressive amount of scientific and paleontological facts and figures that may actually get children seriously thinking about a career in the sciences. This is quite an impressive feat considering that, at the same time, they are struggling to hide grins at what is usually considered a not-for-polite-company topic. My own first contact with coprolite occurred at a gem and mineral fair, where gorgeous and glowing coprolite pieces fetch hefty prices and often fly off the collectors’ tables. But while I knew that coprolite could be made into lovely beads and art objects, reading Coprolite: A Really Crappy Story made me realize that there was a lot more to learn about poo than I had ever dreamed, and some of it is really fascinating, like poo pyrite and shark-spiral poo. Kids of all ages, which will probably include many parents and caregivers, will get a real laugh out of Coprolite. Yes, it’s a crappy story, but it’s also a funny, informative and educational one, and it’s well worth exploring for yourself. Coprolite: A Really Crappy Story is highly recommended.