Photographer David FitzSimmons turns his camera on a variety of animals common throughout North America. Curious Critters presents stunning images of everyday animals, including a red flat bark beetle, an Eastern spiny softshell turtle, a spotted salamander, and many other intriguing creatures. Each Curious Critter is photographed against a white backdrop, showcasing the animal’s colors, textures, and shapes with precision and clarity. Along with each photo is an entertaining and educational vignette, told from the critter’s perspective: a bush katydid explains her bubblegum-pink color, a poetic opossum opines upon her often-shortened name, and a far-from-modest black swallowtail butterfly lets readers in on her secret for avoiding predators. Young boys and girls will delight in these colorful critters and their tales.
My son, who loves all things CURIOUS and who also loves all things Critter, dove into this book with the enthusiasm of the Southern Flying Squirrel. After oohing and ahhing at the cool and the weird, we settled in for a more detailed inspection of this clever book. The eye-catching photographs of the animals captured his attention immediately. The animals were all photographed on a white background and take up most of the space on the large 8 X 11 page. Big Boy loved seeing all of the fur, the claws, the textures, the shapes, and the expressions of these animals. He especially liked the Jumping Spider with his many eyes and hairy legs!
However, it was more than the photographs that caught my attention; the playful prose was absolutely delightful. David Fitzsimmons took the time to INTERVIEW each of the Curious Critters that he photographed. While Big Boy thought this was just a fun reading session, he was actually learning about these animals, their habitats, their habits, and some fun facts – all from the Critters’ perspective! Fitzsimmons said, “Writing Curious Critters was a lot of fun! And it was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. You see, I didn’t really have to do a thing. The animals told me what to write.”
His unique first-person point-of-view gives the book a fun feel while still maintaining all of the educational material that I desire as a parent in a non-fiction book. And, actually, FitzSimmons said this book was one of the most difficult books he has written. He found inspiration for the Critters’ responses from many people including one of my favorite poets TS Elliot, FitzSimmon’s wife Olivia, and graphic novelist, Jay Hosler. FitzSimmons wanted to make the book fun, but with enough educational material that it could be used in a science classroom. My favorite Critter was the Southern Flying Squirrel who can’t seem to talk in complete sentences. The Southern Flying Squirrel reminds me of me with too much coffee! Even my Ballerina got interested in the book. Her favorite animal was the Bush Katydid because (why else?) it’s PINK! She liked the fact that its color was a deterrent for predators.
If your child is interested in learning more about the critters in the book, Fitzsimmons has included a Curious Critters: Natural History layout in the back that gives more scientific details about each of the Critters in the book. There is also a Curious Critters Life-Size Silhouettes grouping where children can identify the Critters that they have just learned about, group the Critters according to species, and spot differences between the silhouettes and the photographs.
This book would make an excellent gift for a child who is an animal lover, a teacher, or a photography buff.
If you would like more information about Curious Critters, David FitzSimmons, the photography techniques he used in the book or the science standards associated with the book, check out the Curious Critters website at www.curious-critters.com
ABOUT DAVID FITZSIMMONS
David FitzSimmons is a freelance photographer and writer as well as a university professor. He photographs and writes for various magazines, including Outdoor Photographer, PopularPhotography, and Shutterbug, newspapers, and online publications, and his over-100 calendar credits include numerous titles by BrownTrout and Barnes & Noble. Curious Critters is David’s first children’s picture book.
A former high school English teacher, David has been in education for twenty years. He is a professor at Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio. David holds a Ph.D. in English from Ohio State University, with a specialty in narrative theory-investigating the components of storytelling-something that influences his photography and writing.
David was inspired to photograph and write about nature by his parents, Mick and Judy FitzSimmons, active environmentalists and life-long teachers, and he is assisted in his natural history endeavors by his wife, Olivia, a naturalist, and his two daughters, Sarah and Phoebe.
One of five Sigma Pro photographers in North America, David presents seminars and workshops to a wide variety of audiences, from public school groups and college classes to nature centers and civic organizations. His works have been exhibited at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, the National Center for Nature Photography, and the Telluride Photo Festival, among other venues. David’s environmentally focused, multi-media performance, “350: Images of Fragile Earth,” travels widely.
Visit David at: www.fitzsimmonsphotography.com
|Lauralee Saad loves homeschooling her three kiddos: Ballerina, age 8, Big Boy, age 6, and MESS, age 3. She enjoys sewing when she can find a spare corner to set up her machine and dig out fabrics, cooking and baking – especially if the kiddos are helping, and enjoying a good book after the kiddos have gone to bed. She is thrilled to be welcoming a baby girl into the family in March of 2012.|