Lita Judge shares the story behind her story …
Writing a book about baby dinosaurs and their parents was a natural for me. As a child I was fortunate to have grandparents who were ornithologists (scientists who study birds) and I spent my early summers helping them raise hawks, eagles, and owls. I was interested in science, nature, and birds, but what fascinated me most was dinosaurs. Because I knew birds evolved from dinosaurs, watching the birds of prey I grew up with made me imagine how baby dinosaurs might have behaved. I was so interested in the study of dinosaurs that when I turned fifteen, I wrote dozens of letters to museums asking if I could volunteer on a dinosaur dig. Eventually I got a response from Dr. Philip Currie of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Alberta, Canada. He was kind enough to allow me to join his summer field crew. My parents had said if I could find a volunteer job, and earned the money for my bus ticket, then I could spend the summer digging dinosaur fossils. The day school let out, I was on a bus to Canada to work on my first dig! I spent the next three summers digging up dinosaur fossils.
I graduated college with a degree in geology, but eventually realized that what I loved most was drawing and writing about dinosaurs. This book fills a lifelong dream to investigate paleontologists’ understanding of baby dinosaurs and their parents. It was an exciting book because scientists have made many great new discoveries of fossilized baby dinosaurs, nests, and eggs in recent years.
As an illustrator as well as a writer, I’m always pushing for how to best convey the topics I write visually as well as with text. As a child reading books about dinosaurs, I didn’t want to just read a list of facts about them; I wanted to “see” how scientists came to their conclusions. I wrote and illustrated Born to be Giants in a format with hypotheses about dinosaur behavior following clues to engage young readers in the scientific method. Piecing together fossil clues is like detective work. I want my readers to join in the detective work, first by reading the clues (and looking at these clues through illustrations) in the book, then encouraging them to make their own guesses about how baby dinosaurs and their parents might have behaved.
I’m currently working on my third book about dinosaurs. I feel fortunate that a childhood passion for these fascinating creatures has turned into an adult passion for creating books about them. How lucky I am to still be studying and drawing dinosaurs!
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