Who makes more money a writer or a palaeontologist? That was definitely the ‘question of the night’ last Tuesday as Turnstone Press launched a new book called Dinosaurs of the Deep . Front and centre were my friend Larry Verstraete who wrote the book, and palaeontologist Victoria Markstrom who works at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden. Larry describes Victoria as his ‘anchor’ during the writing process.
The book launch was hosted by CBC radio personality Terry McCleod and at one point he brought Don Bell and Henry Isaak up to the microphone. Don and Henry are two teachers who began rescuing fossils from highway construction sites in the Morden area in the 1970s. Without their tireless efforts many fossils would have been destroyed. The fossils the two men accumulated in their basements and garages became the basis of the collection now on display at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre.
Although Larry Verstraete is best known as an award-winning author of books for young people, Dinosaurs of the Deep is meant for all readers. The realistic illustrations by Julius Csotonyi are sure to stimulate the imaginations of young and old alike. The book tells the story of the amazing creatures that inhabited the Western Interior Seaway which covered the North American prairies more than 6 million years ago.
Despite the fact that Dinosaurs of the Deep is not targeted exclusively at kids there were many young people in attendance at the book launch and once Terry McCleod opened the floor to questions the kids were the first to raise their hands. They asked great questions of both Victoria the palaeontologist and Larry the writer. The query that got everyone laughing was posed by a boy who wondered if a writer or palaeontologist made more money. After listening to Larry and Victoria describe their work the young man said he wanted to do both jobs. Victoria and Larry assured him he could have careers in both fields if he wanted.
Dinosaurs of the Deep is an easy to read book, set up in a variety of formats to make it engaging and accessible. One page offers a set of medals for the ‘world’s largest’ inhabitants of the Western Interior Seaway. Other pages feature case files about Seaway mysteries and one spread presents the super heroes of the ancient sea on collector type cards.
Reading Dinosaurs of the Deep definitely made me want to visit the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden. The Centre offers programs that allow you to become a palaeontologist yourself and go fossil digging. I need to do that and discover what it’s like to be both a palaeontologist and a writer.