I received a copy of the wonderful and enchanting Curious Critters as a donation for my kids’ school. I’m the President of the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) for South Shores Magnet School for the Visual and Performing Arts. Our Harvest Festival (coming up on October 30, 2011) is our biggest fundraiser. In response to a PR pitch, I said basically thanks, but I don’t usually do book reviews, but hey, would you want to donate a copy to the raffle for the PTO Harvest Festival? And the author and photographer, David FitzSimmons graciously said yes.
So I got a copy.
And it is beautiful. And lovely. And just wonderful and enchanting and charming. So I am doing a review despite saying I wouldn’t. It is that good.
Mr. FitzSimmons photographs relatively common animals – animals you might find in your backyard – against white backgrounds. (Except for the pink katydid – which is hard to find as it is a result of a condition called erythrism). This approach allows the animals to shine. You can focus on the textures, colors, and features of the animals. The presentation makes the animals seem quite exotic and interesting. It makes you realize that the world, especially the world in your backyard, is an amazing place.
Plus, the text is not only informative but fun. Really fun.
Take the story about the Ohio Crawfish –
“Do you know why I’m waving my giant claws? I’m warning you: Don’t come any closer. Snap! Snap! Snap! I catch my food with these claws. I also attack and defend myself with them. Snap! Snap! Snap! Do you want to know something really cool? If any of my legs get hurt, including my giant claws, I can grow new ones. Pretty neat, huh? Now, enough chitchat. Back off! Snap! Snap! Snap!”
Each of the 21 critters tells its story. Plus, the book includes additional natural history information for each critter and more. The information on the book indicates that it addresses all the National Research Council’s life science standards for grades K – 5.
It is a lovely, charming, enchanting book. I recommend it for any child or teacher. It would make a fabulous gift for the holidays. You can find Curious Critters on Amazon. It is scheduled for release on November 7, 2011.
And you can see more of Mr. FitzSimmons’ photography at his website.
I think it will inspire readers to care more about the natural world. And, perhaps, to go exploring to see if they can find a pink katydid.