________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 1 . . . . September 1, 2006


Jurassic Poop: What Dinosaurs (And Others) Left Behind.

Jacob Berkowitz. Illustrated by Steve Mack.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2006.
40 pp., pbk. & cl., $7.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55337-867-9 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55337-860-1 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Coprolites-Juvenile literature.
Fossils-Food-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Marilynne V. Black.

**** /4


Who would you call if you want the dirt on dinosaur coprolites? Karen Chin's the name, dinosaur dung's the game.

Karen is a paleoecologist (a scientist who studies the relationships between ancient animals, plants and the environment.) And she's the only one in the world whose full-time window on the past is fossil doo-doo. Her office at the University of Colorado is full of it. She's had her hands on thousands of fossilized turds, from giant tyrannosaurid coprolites to ancient marine reptile coprolites from the high Arctic.

As a young girl, Karen never dreamed what she's ended up studying. She began learning about fossil plants and bones. As she looked at plant remains in fossil feces, she soon realized there was a more fertile field of research. It's the coprolites, she realized, that hold the clues to how and what dinosaurs and other ancient animals ate and the role their poop played in the great cycle of life.

What kids don't dig a bit of bathroom humor? This 40-page nonfiction title has it in spades. They will love the use of the many names for that basic bodily function. The author, Jacob Berkowitz, is a science writer who clearly knows how to grab a kid's attention. Fitting the popular genre of "grossology," it is full of sly humor, such as "to determine the poopetrator, you'll have to use a process of elimination " and zingy titles like "Survival of the Feces" and "Turd to Treasure." Short chapters, cartoonish drawings, photographs and diagrams, along with the chatty style, expand the text and make the information easily accessed by young readers.

     Jurassic Poop is definitely kid-friendly. Why coprolites are important, the work of a variety of scientists and details about several coprolite locations in the world, along with the time period and what was revealed, all add fascinating information. Also included is interesting trivia such as the fact that the Pilgrims on the Mayflower unknowingly brought over two dozen different beetle species with them.

     Scientific terms are clearly and simply explained in brackets immediately following the word. For example, page 35 defines paleoparasitologists as scientists who study ancient parasites while archaeoentomologists are scientists who study ancient insects. In addition, sizes and explanations are put into perspectives that young readers will immediately identify with. When discussing rock strata, for instance, the author likens it to "the layers of clothes on the floor of your bedroom. The top layer is yesterday, the next layer down, two days ago, and so on." In addition, readers are asked to solve some mysteries. "You Be the Poop Detective" and "Solve the Case of Who Dung It!" are but two examples. Where to find the answers is given at the end of the each question. A table of contents, glossary, and index give easy access to the information.

Highly Recommended.

Marilynne V. Black is a former B.C. elementary teacher-librarian who completed her Master of Arts in Children's Literature (UBC) in the spring of 2005 and is now acting as a children's literature consultant.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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