Award-winning picture book teaches children about animals and the environment.
Award-winning 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.
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.”
Besides the extraordinary photography, each of the twenty-one Curious Critters gets a chance to tell its story. Take, for example, the jabbery jay, who explains that he loves to imitate other birds:
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.
Then there’s the crabby crayfish, who keeps snapping his claws at readers:
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!
Curious Critters is filled with other fascinating fauna, including a beautiful butterfly, a frenetic flying squirrel, a brilliant red beetle, a pink katydid, a poetic opossum, a singing salamander, and other amazing animals.
In writing Curious Critters, David imagined that each critter talked to him during its portrait session and that he just wrote down what was said.
Curious Critters is not only entertaining but also educational. Before David began composing the short vignettes accompanying each photo, he reviewed national science education standards. Curious Critters addresses all the National Research Council’s life science standards for grades K-4.
The picture book also features additional natural history information for each Critter and a two-page spread of life-size silhouettes—where readers are asked to identify Critters, find one whose shape has changed, test geometry skills in looking for reversed silhouettes, and figure out what the various colors represent. The book also includes a glossary.
The book’s web site, www.curious-critters.com, has additional resources, including puzzles, coloring pages, e-cards, teacher aids, and stories about the making of the book.
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 squirrels to caterpillars and katydids—in a whole new and meaningful way. I hope the photography captivates even the most reluctant readers.”
Curious Critters is the 2011 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards silver medalist among Non-Fiction – Picture Books.
Author: David FitzSimmons
Publisher: Wild Iris Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 11 x 9.5, 32 pp.
Publication Date: November 7, 2011
US Price: $19.95
Category: Children’s Books (Ages 4-8)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David FitzSimmons is an award-winning freelance photographer and writer as well as a university professor. He photographs and writes for various magazines, including Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography, and Shutterbug, newspapers, and online publications, and his over-100 calendar credits include numerous titles by BrownTrout and Barnes & Noble.
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.
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. In 2011 David’s children’s book, Curious Critters, received a silver medal in the 2011 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards competition.
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.
Visit David at: www.fitzsimmonsphotography.com