A Really Crappy Story

Children - Educational
32 Pages
Reviewed on 10/05/2015
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Author Biography

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 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-i-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, 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 the expert on “duty” 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!

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

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.