A Virginia opossum (above) pauses, mid-patter, on a page in Curious Critters and grins winsomely. Whiskers splayed like curly spokes around its nose, the fuzzy marsupial peers out eagerly with beady eyes. Elsewhere, an Ohio crawfish (right) extends both pincers—a crustacean’s version of
a hug? Kids will perhaps recognize the creatures in this album of animal portraits by university professor David FitzSimmons; the unfamiliar species will surely make their must-see lists. Snappy narratives from the animals’ perspectives, sprinkled lightly with facts, accompany each bright, glossy photograph. “I fly in the dark. I squeak and listen, squeak and listen,” says a big brown bat. “As my sounds bounce off objects, I hear where things are. It’s called echolocation.” A website offers games, coloring pages, e-cards, and behind-the-scenes info to keep kids (and adults) engaged beyond the page.
A few images from the book, which won the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book (among other distinctions), follow: