ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa | Ever since he was a little boy, Peter Davidson had been a bit of a hoarder.
And the object of his obsession was usually bright, shiny copper pennies.
"Anytime I looked at a penny in the palm of my hand, I'd wonder where it had been, what it had seen, and what was its story," Davidson said.
The life of a very specific one-cent piece is the premise of "Penny," a new book by the prolific Northwest Iowa writer.
Author of eight children's books, six textbooks, and even a mystery novel taking place on Lake Okoboji, Davidson said "Penny" -- the 28th book he's written -- is, at times, semi-autobiographical.
"I've taught countless writing seminars in which I'd teach students to write from the heart and write what they know," he said. "In 'Penny,' I was able to incorporate both lessons."
The premise of your book seems like so much fun. It's even more interesting because you made the penny an actual, quirky character in his own right.
"That's true. My book is centered around a very special penny. It was the last one of the true 95 percent copper pennies minted in 1982. Nowadays, pennies are pathetic and puny. They consist of 97.5 percent zinc and just a touch of copper. My penny knows his importance and it gives him a bit of an attitude."
Well, that's understandable since this particular penny has had quite a life.
"I know it. In my story, Penny passes through the hands of ordinary people, the famous and the infamous, the saints and the sinners. This is a coin that's been in churches, honky tonks and everywhere in between."
Which is pretty amazing for a coin that most people don't like to carry, right?
"People are always so quick to judge. When people say it's only a penny, it's a bit of an insult. But once you realize that the typical penny can easily pass through 100,000 hands, it's pretty remarkable."
Are you still collecting pennies?
"Absolutely. I read somewhere that Warren Buffett has been known to pick up pennies he finds on sidewalks. If it's good enough for Warren Buffett, it is good enough for me."