Book Review: Curious Critters by David FitzSimmons

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Well it's Halloween time, so anything creepy, crawly is appropriate, right?
This new book is perfect!

This is a different style review today- let me know how you like it!

curious critters cover
Bellville, Ohio, author and photographer David FitzSimmons has a unique approach to animal portraiture, and he loves sharing it with kids. Instead of seeking rare animals in exotic locations, David photographs common animals—many found in your own back yard—against plain, white backgrounds.  The resulting images are striking (as you can see from the cover photo on the left!).

David’s unconventional approach allows animals’ colors, textures, shapes, and “personalities” to shine through. Kids focus on the animals. That’s when the learning begins. David explains, “White backgrounds eliminate distractions and help young readers notice clues about animals’ behaviors, diets, life cycles, and habitats.” This is very true, as Kiddo was immediately entranced with the pictures and almost didn't WANT me reading to her, so was SO taken by the animals!

Besides the extraordinary photography, each of the twenty-one Curious Critters gets a chance to tell its story. And that was why Kiddo said, "OK Mama, you can read", after she realized how the animal was talking TO her, and she wasn't being lectured about the animal! Take, for example, the jabbery jay (picture page shown below),who explains that he loves to imitate other birds:

Keeeeee-arr. Kee-eeeee-arr. Ha! I scared you with my hawk call, didn’t I? You thought I was coming to get you. Actually, I’m just a jabbery jay, but I love to imitate hawks and other birds. 

blue jay and crawfish page

We have Blue Jays AND Hawks in our yard, so Kiddo was immediatly drawn to this page and it's words! She got tongue tied she got so excited about "YES, our Jay does that too!". Then she saw the crawfish and gotten even more excited, as they are one of her favorite foods! She had no idea their legs grew BACK if taken off, so she was super excited about learning something NEW!

We have had to 'read' this book EVERY night since it came in- it has supplanted every book Kiddo has! She adores going through all the pages and hearing the animals talking to her about their lives (I have to admit, I had to start adding more dialogue, we've read it so much! Talk about keeping Mom on her toes!). Afterwards we HAVE to go through the additional natural history spread with all the Critters, so she can identify them all by their pictures! Then we have to go to the two-page spread of life-size silhouettes, so she can identify the Critters again. This one is harder, as one shape is changed from the original photos, there are some reversed silhouettes, and colors represent different aspects of the creatures. It's like having 2 extra LEARNING games included! After that we have to go through the photos on the covers and flyleafs too! Bonus time! LOL.

flying squirrel
David hopes that Curious Critters will inspire children and adults to conserve nature. “To protect our natural world, we first have to care about it. I hope that my animal pictures allow readers to see common animals—from frogs and flying squirrels (pictured left) to caterpillars and katydids—in a whole new and meaningful way. I hope the photography captivates even the most reluctant readers.” I really think it will! Kiddo is not a fan of snakes and bugs, but the ones in this book totally fascinate her and she has renewed appreciation for Jumping Spiders now!

Curious Critters is perfect for ALL kids, boys and girls, in grades K-5, and should be on every teacher's list! Before David began writing the "animal talks" accompanying each photo, he reviewed the National Research Council’s life science standards for grades K-5! That's how dedicated he was to this book- and it really shows!  Plus you can go to the Curious Critters' website and get MORE games, coloring ages, teacher aids AND stories (yup, we need those!). You can even buy matching postcards of some of the photos from the book!

This book is going on our list of presents for the cousins for Christmas, and I will be getting a copy for Kiddo's classroom as well! Consider it if you want to make a donation to YOUR child's school!

About the AuthorDavid FitzSimmons is a freelance photographer and writer,  as well as a university professor. He  photographs and writes for various magazines, including Outdoor Photographer and PopularPhotography, newspapers, and online publications. David was inspired to photograph and write about nature by his parents, and is one of ONLY five Sigma Pro photographers in North America!. He is assisted in his natural history endeavors by his wife, Olivia, a naturalist, and his two daughters, Sarah and Phoebe. Visit his website for more info! AND check out his blog for STUNNING nature photography and some great advice on how to get those brilliant shots!

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this book, free of charge, from the author, via Direct Contact PR, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it.


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