written and photographed by David FitzSimmons
2011 (Wild Iris Publishing)
Source: Orange County Public Library
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Photographer and writer David FitzSimmons was fortunate enough to have 21 North American animals not only agree to sit for a portrait, but they also shared their thoughts with him on their life in the wild. As Rod Stewart once sang, some guys have all the luck. Some animals, like the American Toad, give a straight interview and provide interesting tidbits about their lives. Mr. Toad reveals that he is completely lacking in princesses waiting to kiss him and that he is a humble hopper as opposed to the showier frogs and their leaps. Others like the Virginia Opossum, prefer a more poetic approach:
Opossum! Opossum! How I love you!
You carry your kids like marsupials do.
Whenever you're bothered, you run on ahead.
If further provoked, you pretend you are dead.
The red flat bark beetle engages in puns in explaining his particular dilemma. The spotted salamander gives an interview in song. These talented critters give the reader an insight into their fascinating lives.
There are two things that stand out about this book. First, the photographs are as good as you are going to see. With a white background, FitzSimmons gets you to focus on the animal and you are up close and personal. Seeing the mites on the back of the red beetle is an example of how young readers will appreciate these pictures. Second, FitzSimmons has fun with the text. He injects poetry, information, and humor to create an enjoyable read. If I was teaching a unit on animals, I would read one of these interviews each day in my class. Students could then write their own interview with an animal complete with questions and answers.