Meet Some of Nature’s Most Fascinating Critters

What do turtles and humans have in common? Why don’t jumping spiders need to look over their shoulders? Can squirrels really fly?

These intriguing questions and many more are explored in Curious Critters, a picture book for kids by photographer David FitzSimmons. The book, published by Wild Iris Publishing, contains stunning images of animals that many never see, including the red flat bark beetle and the Eastern spiny soft-shell turtle.

Each of the creatures appears against a white backdrop to showcase its colors, textures and shape with clarity and precision. Each photograph is accompanied by information, told from the critter’s perspective, to educate and entertain young readers. Kids who read this — or have it read to them –– learn a lot about the world around them and also gain new appreciation for Mother Nature’s clever strategies. Who knows? The child who enjoys Curious Critters may end up spending more time outdoors, laying the groundwork for a great career as a biologist or other nature explorer.

When FitzSimmons began writing Curious Critters, he decided to focus on twenty-one entirely different wild things, and pair each one with a unique personality. Kids relate to animals with attitude, which is why FitzSimmons worked out a different viewpoint for each animal, bird, or insect. The American bullfrog is a happy guy; the southern flying squirrel brims with excitement and the American toad is just plain grumpy. To increase interest, the text varies in tone and style. For instance, the spotted salamander sings a song while the opossum waxes poetic about her often-shortened name. There is a vignette of a bush katydid (large grasshopper) explaining why she’s clad in bubble-gum pink and a far-from-modest black swallowtail butterfly letting readers in on her secret for avoiding predators.

The animals describe where they live, how they behave, what they eat and other details of their lives, in language appropriate for four-to-eight-year-olds. To be as accurate as possible, while keeping the words easy for youngsters to grasp, the author investigated how teachers of very early grades deal with science.

FitzSimmons knows what he’s talking about as, in addition to being a highly-experienced photographer with credits in numerous publications including Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography and Shutterbug, he is a former high school English teacher, holds a Ph.D. in English from Ohio State University, and is currently a professor at Ashland University, Ashland Ohio. Customers can rely on accurate information as FitzSimmons started by checking out national science education standards and later ran copy by a host of highly qualified naturalists and scientists.

FitzSimmons brings a particular sensitivity to his work, having been inspired to photograph and write about nature by his parents, both active environmentalists and life-long teachers. He gets help from his wife, also a naturalist, and has two nature-loving daughters who make sure his explanations are kid-friendly. Seven-year old Sarah found the gray tree frog that graces the book’s cover when the creature was clinging to the handlebar of her scooter. Eighteen-month old Phoebe sits on her dad’s lap and begs to see her favorite critter, the spiraled fox snake.

More than five million people have seen and enjoyed FitzSimmons’ images and reacted with pleasure to his skills. Shouldn’t Curious Critters be a book you offer your customers? Read more about it at