Curious Critters Marine, by Wildlife photographer and environmental educator David FitzSimmons, Children’s Book Brings Readers Eye-to-Eye with Spoonbills, Seahorses, and other Florida Sea Life

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Children’s Book Brings Readers Eye-to-Eye with Spoonbills, Seahorses, and other Florida Sea Life

Wildlife photographer and environmental educator David FitzSimmons is on a mission to get children to fall in love with ocean animals by making reading as engaging as a swim in the sea. His new book, Curious Critters Marine, the third book in his award-winning Curious Critters series, will be released on April 22, Earth Day 2015. Featuring many fascinating animals found along Florida’s coasts, it is sure to make a splash!

FitzSimmons is at the forefront of environmental education. He produces exquisitely-detailed, up-close photography of amazing animals that inhabit the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, including the Gulf of Mexico. Through stunning photography, children go face-to-face with animals ranging from a spectacular roseate spoonbill to savvy loggerhead sea turtle, from an upside-down jellyfish to a kind-of-curmudgeon calico crab.

Many of the animals were photographed right here in the Sunshine State—the spoonbill at the Palm Beach Zoo, the lined seahorse and cushion sea star at Sarasota’s Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, the loggerhead sea turtle at The Turtle Hospital on the Keys, and the double-crested cormorant at the Peace River Wildlife Sanctuary in Punta Gorda.

“Children are mesmerized as they stare eye-to-eye with a crab, a cormorant, or an angelfish. I try to photograph the animals on eye-level so kids can connect emotionally with the critters,” said FitzSimmons. “The goal is to foster children’s biophilia—to get young readers to fall in love with nature.”

And fall in love they do—with a cadre of curious animals. “Up to ninety percent of kids’ dreams are about animals. My books allow children to experience nature, particularly animals, through reading,” said FitzSimmons. “Of course, peering at a sea star or hearing a cormorant call are great ways for children to connect with nature, but such experiences should be supplemented with nature reading.”

Adding to the fun photography is playful prose accompanying each critter. As the animals posed for portraits, David imagined them talking to him. Then he wrote down what they had to say.

The cushion sea star, for example, serenades readers with stanzas set to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Look at me, a bright sea star,

out beyond the big sand bar.

Crawling in the shallow sea,

tiny tube feet carry me

out to join a galaxy

of sea stars that look like me.

A crabby calico crab bemoans his thankless role as a detritivore: “I’m the one down here devouring loads of decaying debris, and nobody applauds my efforts. Without recyclers like me, can you imagine what the ocean would look like? Why, we’d be wallowing in whale waste and covered in crumbling kelp.”

The roseate spoonbill describes his choice of cutlery: “Forks are fine, but nothing beats a good spoon…As I wiggle my unique beak back and forth in the water, I can feel small animals hiding in the mud and sand. When I detect fish, shrimp, insect larvae, and other mini morsels, I snap my dipper shut and eat ‘em up. Best of all are shrimp. The more I eat, the rosier my feathers become!”

And an agile gray angelfish waxes poetic about life on the reef:

Swim so happily angelfish.

Give you little fins a swish.

Twist and turn within the reef.

Nibble sponges with your teeth.

Other creatures also offer their insights into marine world. The spike-covered Atlantic horseshoe crab explains that a sharp shell has allowed this spider-relative to survive since “long before dinosaurs were around.” A baby loggerhead sea turtle tiredly talks about his march from nest to sea after hatching. And the blue American lobster points out that, while most of his crustacean compatriots are “brown or dark green,” he is a rare “one-in-two-million blue gem of the sea.”

With mesmerizing images and inviting prose, Curious Critters Marine is sure to whet the appetite of Floridians wishing to know more about our salty waters. Additional material in the back of the book includes a Life-Size Silhouettes page, a Glossary, and a Natural History page, where readers learn that Atlantic horseshoe crabs have blue blood, that cushion sea stars eat by turning their stomachs inside out, and that calico crabs “often have tricolor anemones hitchhiking atop their shells.”

FitzSimmons points out that oceans cover more than seventy percent of the Earth’s surface, yet humans have explored less than five percent of their waters. He believes that Curious Critters Marine may act as “a snorkel, fins, and mask,” allowing readers of all ages to “dive in!”

With Curious Critters Marine, children along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts will find a wet and wonderful world awaits.

Curious Critters Marine

by David FitzSimmons

List $16.95

Hardcover, Color illustrations throughout, 11 in. x 9.5 in., 32 pp.

ISBN 978-1-936607-72-3

Published by Wild Iris Publishing

Official Publication date April 22, 2015 (Earth Day)

Children’s Nonfiction (Ages 2-8).

www.curious-critters.com displays more Curious Critters photos and provides information about how FitzSimmons photographed the animals, as well as insight about how he write his books.

Curious Critters Volume One has sold over 100,000 copies and won six national book awards, including the coveted Independent Book Publishers Association’s Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book.

About the Author — DAVID FITZSIMMONS

David FitzSimmons is an award-winning free-lance photographer and writer. David photographs and writes for various magazines, including Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography, Professional Photographer, and Shutterbug. His 100+ calendar credits include numerous titles by BrownTrout and Barnes & Noble. David’s most recent publications include Animals of Ohio’s Ponds and Vernal Pools, Curious Critters, which has won five national book awards and sold over 100,000 copies to-date, and Curious Critter Volume Two, as well as audiobooks for both Curious Critters titles. Forthcoming is Salamander Dance (Spring 2016), a children’s picture book exploring the annual life cycle of vernal pools, and the first two board books, Curious Critters Ohio and Curious Critters Michigan.

One of seven Sigma Pro photographers in North America, David presents seminars and workshops to a wide variety of audiences, from public school, college, and university classes to photography groups 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.

Before becoming a freelance photographer and author, David taught for over twenty years, first as high school English teacher and then as a university professor, having instructed at Ashland University, Ohio State University, and Cornell University. He holds a Ph.D. in English from Ohio State, with a specialty in narrative theory—investigating the components of storytelling—something that influences his photography and writing.

Learn more about David at www.fitzsimmonsphotography.com

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