Brought to life by a lonely hopping dinosaur and a Sky Lizard who may be a reptilian version of God, Nathan Minier confronts the questions of who we are and why we are here in his classic story of an underdog who doesn’t quite fit in.

Nathan Minier discusses his children’s book ‘Stevie the Hopposaurus’ at the Bru Coffee House in Los Feliz on Monday, February 18, 2014. Minier is a student at PCC and self published his book through Amazon. (Benjamin Simpson/Courier)
Nathan Minier discusses his children’s book ‘Stevie the Hopposaurus’ at the Bru Coffee House in Los Feliz on Monday, February 18, 2014. Minier is a student at PCC and self published his book through Amazon. (Benjamin Simpson/Courier)

Written and illustrated by Minier, “Stevie the Hopposaurus” tells the tale of a special dinosaur that was dropped out of the sky by a wizard called the Sky Lizard. Stevie tries—to no avail—to make friends with the other dinosaurs but they shun him and question why anyone would have made a creature so different from everyone else.

One day while Stevie makes yet another attempt at befriending the other dinosaurs, another Hopposaurus called Wunder comes to town, much to everyone’s dismay. But when the Hopposauruses greet each other with a high-five, they cause a frenzy when a “wonderous whammy of glorious rays” bursts from their hands.

The eruption of light is seen all through the town and the dinosaurs gather to witness Stevie and Wunder work miracles and dispel superstitions. When one of the dinosaurs asks if the Sky Lizard is real, Stevie and Wunder tell the others that it doesn’t matter as long as they are good and treat everyone with kindness and respect.

“Stevie has this unbroken spirit,” said actor Matt Shea, who played an integral part in the editing process of the story. “He keeps a smile on his face and keeps pushing on, and that’s something that everyone can relate to. It’s the human experience. If you don’t give up, you’ll find your place and won’t have to hide who you are, and that’s beautiful.”

“Stevie the Hopposaurus” is available on Amazon and through Minier’s website, hoposaurus.com.

Minier began working on the story in December 2012 and because he couldn’t get anyone to read it, he put together a short film narrated by Adam Croasdell, who has appeared in an episode of “Supernatural” and was a recurring character on the British soap opera “EastEnders.”

The video won Best Homegrown Film at the 2013 Rumschpringe International Short Film Festival in Lancaster, Pa.

“Nate has created a project with a big heart and a great message,” Croasdell said on his website. “It has been a pleasure to have been asked to narrate this tale, and to have it win its first award at Rumschpringe. Hopefully ‘Stevie’ will plant good seeds in the young minds exposed to it.”

Carlos Ramirez, a ceramics instructor at PCC, said that on the drive home one day, his one-year-old son Cosmo was cranky from sitting in his carseat for too long, so Ramirez’s wife played the video for Cosmo.

“To our delight he was immediately enchanted by the narration and colorful illustrations,” Ramirez said. “‘Stevie the Hopposaurus’ is a charming book written with a keen sense of humor while touching earnestly on deep themes of individuality, acceptance and the search for a happy life. Above all, Nathan Minier’s book is a beautiful guide to children of all ages on how to be a good person in the world.”

Though the book and accompanying video are bright and colorful enough to appeal to children, Minier said that he never really saw it as a children’s book. For Minier, the book is more of a commentary on whether God exists or not.

“I want people to take from this whatever speaks to them… I would like it to stir up new ideas in peoples’ minds, maybe give them new questions or maybe confirm something that they’ve always felt,” Minier said.

Unfortunately, Minier almost put aside art altogether when he was scolded for crafting a clay sculpture of a demon in his art class at the Christian school he attended in Lancaster, Pa.

Despite the diabolical nature of his sculpture, Minier’s artistic talents were recognized from a young age and he was invited to participate in a prestigious art program. But he wasn’t content with just drawing fruit and scenery.

“I took a 17-year break from drawing in the fourth grade,” Minier said. “After that I didn’t really want to make art anymore because I didn’t want to get in trouble anymore. I didn’t want to have people scaring the crap out of me.”

A few years ago while on a meditation retreat in Escondido, Calif., Minier rediscovered his creative talents when he found a pack of Crayola markers and a drawing tablet.

Three of his paintings were featured in the 2013 PCC Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition. Doug Harvey, an LA Weekly art critic who was one of the judges for the exhibition, described Minier’s piece entitled “Way Cheaper,” as “the most perplexing in the whole show,” according to Minier.

After studying film in Pittsburgh, Pa., Minier moved to California with the hopes of pursuing a film career. He soon found it to be unfulfilling and now studies industrial design at PCC.

Minier is currently working on his next book, “Dr. Keith and his Rainbow Teeth,” in which he focuses on the theme of friendship while also delving into the lengths people will go to in order to be noticed in a celebrity obsessed culture.

Shea said that even though Minier’s books are marketed as children’s books they are multi-layered and a little dark.

“I remember distinctly the first time Nate showed me his drawings. They were mostly sketches and doodles, but I could just tell that he’s very creative and I could tell from his characters that he is trying to forge new territory,” Shea said. “Within this world we need shadows and light, and Nate’s work is uplifting because he’s not afraid to use those shadows to bring out the light.”

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