I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of "Curious Critters" by David FitzSimmons and test it out on the kids for a couple weeks. Emi giggled at all the quirky things the creatures had to say to her, and Isaac, my little trivia junkie, enjoyed learning the various facts about the animals inside. Both kids to this day regularly select the book from the bookshelf to peruse on their own or to have me read it to them. To be completely honest, sometimes I've caught myself leafing through the pages even when the kids are at school.
The author, David FitzSimmons, is a freelance photographer as well as a university professor. I have to say, the pictures he took for this book are breathtaking. The colors are so bright, the focus so sharp, the reader can see every little detail in a kind of clarity that makes it hard for the brain to accept that the page doesn't feel furry or slimy when you reach for the animals. Even the less savory animals like bugs and snakes are beautiful through this guy's lens, and they display a level of personality you don't normally see in other nature books.
My favorite aspect of the book besides the sheer artistry is the fact that the featured animals are not rare, exotic species; in fact, all of them can be found in North America, a lot of them in our own backyards.
I highly recommend this book as a gift for animal, nature, and/or photography enthusiasts who have kids or have one on the way, as well as for any kids who enjoys looking at and learning about animals.
But as my hero Levar Burton says, "You don't have to take my word for it." You can preview a good chunk of the book online and see for yourself.