Reviews for Curious Critters

Booklist Reviews 2015 May #1
This third Curious Critters book reveals that marine animals are just as--or even more--unusual than land dwellers. In vibrant hues from the yellow lined seahorse to the pink roseate spoonbill to the translucent candy stripe shrimp, stunning large-scale photographs set against a white background dramatically depict a sampling of 20 such marine animals. Short first-person narration from the animal's perspective, rhyming poems, a joke, and even a song (about the cushion sea star, sung to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"), all written in a conversational style, offer surprising information about the animals' physical characteristics, food-gathering techniques, adaptations, protection, and quirky traits. Concluding thumbnails are accompanied by even more facts about the animals' habitats, diets, and classifications in the animal kingdom. A double-page spread of life-size silhouettes adds more fun to the visual experience. While there is little information on where the animals live, this book is not meant for research but to pique curiosity--and it succeeds wildly. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Booklist Reviews 2014 March #1
Fans of Steve Jenkins' Actual Size (2004) and Teruyuki Komiya's Life-Size Zoo (2009) will welcome this latest book to feature animals up close. Eye-catching color photographs set against white backgrounds show off 20 remarkable animals, from a striped skunk and a great horned owl to a cave salamander and a nine-banded armadillo. Short, first-person narratives in the voices of the animals use a conversational style to introduce such characteristics as adaptation, migration, sound, movement, and habitat. A few poems, including a concrete poem that reflects the shape of the eyed elater beetle, keep the text lively. There are many surprises here, such as the gray squirrel that is white in color because he's leucistic (lacks color pigments in his skin and hair, but not in his eyes like an albino). There are also the eastern cottontail rabbits, which eat their own poop to double their nutrients from the same meal. Concluding thumbnails offer more information about these diverse creatures, while overlapping life-size silhouettes allow children to make contrasts and comparisons. Here's one book that really lives up to its title! Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

ForeWord Magazine Reviews 2012 - Spring Issue: March 1, 2012

These engaging close-up photographs of eighteen animals will make children and adults grin and quiver simultaneously. Each page or spread reveals a new creature, including a fox snake, an American bullfrog, an Eastern screech owl, an opossum, and a fuchsia-colored katydid. Bios offer just the right amount of background: a jumping spider can see in eight directions at the same time--watch out! The author/photographer is an educator who specializes in narrative theory. All ages.

2012 ForeWord Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

"ForeWord Magazine Reviews 2014 - Spring Issue: March 1, 2014"

In the distinct voices of twenty animals, David FitzSimmons introduces science lovers to the biology, behavior, and ecological benefits of a variety of critters. From the cave salamander to the great horned owl, from the American alligator to the predaceous diving beetle, the creatures in this volume inspire and offer insight through fun prose soliloquies--the animals speaking directly to readers. FitzSimmons's clear and detailed photographs bring a unique angle to children's nature literature. Ages two and up.

© 2014 Foreword Magazine, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2015 March #2

In his third Curious Critters book, FitzSimmons pairs breathtakingly detailed photographs of 20 aquatic creatures with offbeat accounts of the animals' lives, which take the form of poems, songs, and first-person monologues. A translucent hooded nudibranch looks more mushroom than mollusk as the sea slug raves about its fashion sense ("From my sheer dress to my eye-catching hat, I'm nothing but flair and finesse"); a starfish describes itself to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" ("Tough and bendy is my skin./ That's my exoskeleton"). From a wisecracking sea cucumber to a frogfish trying to hide its predatory nature, FitzSimmons offers a cheeky guide to the sea's odder denizens. Ages 3-up. (Apr.)

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 December #3

FitzSimmons's companion to 2011's Curious Critters features dramatic, close-up photographs of 20 animals that range from recognizable (monarch butterfly, gray squirrel) to unfamiliar (gold-green sweat bee). Each subject describes itself in language varying from earnest to playfully boastful: "My name is eyed elater./ No beetle's jump is greater./ Click. Click. Click," says one insect with hip-hop swagger. Elsewhere, a cardinal describes domestic tranquility ("We built another nest, and now the apple of my eye is incubating our second clutch of eggs"). FitzSimmons's intimate photos and mix of science and fun should especially appeal to kids who would rather have a pet tarantula than gerbil. Ages 2-8. (Feb.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 January

K-Gr 3--This collection of amazing close-up images on stark white backgrounds is a stunning introduction to the animals' unique beauty. No one could resist lingering over the sharp details in these vibrant photographs. Facing portraits of the American bullfrog and the American toad highlight the differences between the moist-skinned frog and the dry toad. The humorous, first-person text implies a rivalry involving toads and warts versus frogs and princesses. One spread features a face-off between two very different predators--a perfectly coiled black-and-gold fox snake and an Eastern screech-owl. The Virginia opossum looks directly into the camera and grabs viewers' attention. The tiny mites hitching a ride on the red flat bark beetle are nothing short of amazing. A concluding two-page section provides a brief paragraph on the natural history of each animal and insect. An interesting spread presents overlapping life-size silhouettes of each creature comparing their actual sizes. Each one is numbered and color-coded as a test to identify the individuals and their groupings. The sophisticated photography and lighthearted narrative combine in an intriguing introduction to some of the inhabitants of the natural world.--Frances E. Millhouser, formerly at Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA

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School Library Journal Reviews 2015 April

Gr 3 Up--This eye-catching collection of 20 unusual marine dwellers will amaze readers. The photographs are vivid and striking, while the text is incredibly witty and accessible, penned mostly in the first person from the perspectives of these creatures (the Hawaiian reef hermit crab greets readers, "Aloha! I'm so glad you could come to my housewarming luau."). The entries on the California sea cucumber, featuring text that evokes a comedy routine, and the cushion sea star, which is accompanied by an enchanting poem, will likely be among the most visited pages. These brief descriptions provide just enough information to whet readers' appetites and may inspire them to seek out more in-depth materials. The back matter includes more details on each animal, along with a game that asks children to identify the animals from the book based on silhouette images. VERDICT A definite purchase, especially for fans of FitzSimmons's previous work.--Martha Rico, El Paso ISD, TX

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School Library Journal Reviews 2014 February

Gr 2-5--Twenty-three creatures provide first-person anthropomorphized perspectives on their experiences. Large, clear photographs of amphibians, birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, and insects shine against each spare background. While many of those critters will be familiar to young readers (striped skunks and American alligators), there are some unusual choices, from geometer moths to eyed elaters. The photographs are visually stunning with dramatic facial expressions, though they don't always mirror the text. The American alligator section features a lone alligator, though the opening sentence reads, "My brothers and I are practicing bellowing." Statements vary in their appeal. The gold-green sweat bee's interesting perspective strikes with a punch. "Are you nice and sweaty? Great! I'll clean you up. Of course, by 'clean you up' I mean I'll crawl all over your skin and lick up your sweat." Statements from other animals don't add much detail, however, such as this limerick from S. Skunk. "My skunk reputation's maligned./On bees and small rodents I dine./And that spray that you fear/coming out of my rear,/I think odoriferously fine!" While there are no source notes provided, there is a glossary, though the vocabulary provided may surpass the level of understanding for the young audience. Glyptodon is defined, for example, as "relatives of armadillos that lived during the Pleistocene epoch and became extinct about ten thousand years ago." The section "Curious Critters: Natural History" provides a few concluding factual statements. The spread "Curious Critters Life-Size Silhouettes" poses several interesting questions against a backdrop of animal silhouettes. It's the impressive photographs that remain the real star here.--Meg Smith, Cumberland County Public Library, Fayetteville, NC

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