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Nature is both fascinating and boring. I’ve hardly ever been interested in it, even as a kid, besides all the vicious animals. But now I have a son, and he’s going to ask questions. And I’m going to want to teach him things. So Mari and I thought it would be a good idea to pick up Fiona Cohen’s Curious Kids Nature Guide. As the explanatory title implies, the book revolves around the Pacific Northwest of the US, aka Cascadia: Washington, Oregon, the Alaskan panhandle, and Canada’s British Columbia. We’ve never been to this area, though we have friends there and hope to visit them one day. From the pictures I’ve seen, this area is beautiful.
The book organized in four sections: forest, beach, fresh water, and backyards, the four most accessible types of habitat kids can get to. Before Cohen moves into these sections, she gives some instructions to do before your kids get started.
- When you go into nature, stay quiet and still. Use your senses, and look patiently for animals big and small.
- Wear comfortable clothes so that you can stay comfortable during your foray into the wild.
- Take care of the nature (pick up litter and don’t feed the wildlife!).
- Don’t go alone.
Cohen writes about some of the common, everyday plants, animals, and fungi your kids will see. Some of the most common things can be the most interesting. The book can help them take a second (and third) look around at their surroundings.
Marni Fylling illustrated the book with precise detail. From mussels, to crabs, sea otters to moon jelly, blackbirds to yellow jackets, newts to beavers, the illustrations are of excellent quality. A paragraph or two (or sometimes three) is spent on many of the animals and facets of nature that kids and parents will find interesting.
- Woodpeckers have extra eyelids to keep their eyes from popping out of their heads when they drill into trees.
- A mussel’s glue both stretchy and stronger than steel. Take that, Spiderman.
- Periwinkles are tiny snails that are so strong you could feed them to a sea anemone and they would only come out unharmed and with a shinier shell.
- The “ribbit” of a pacific chorus frog can measure 90 decibels, “about as loud as a bulldozer engine” (61).
- Only female mosquitos are interested in your blood.
The books ends with the four seasons of the year and the when different animals do their seasonal activities.
As I wrote above, I’ve never even been to Cascadia, let alone live there, so I can’t comment on how accurate this book is. Regardless, this book was pretty cool. The downside was that this book doesn’t include some of nature’s more “beastly” animals like moose, elk, snakes, bears, wolves, cougars, skunks (not “beastly,” I know), bats, porcupines, and wolverines. Now, these aren’t animals that kids should go out looking for. They probably are aware they are out there, and it would be fun to see pictures and get to read about the scarier creatures of Cascadia. The kids who will get the most out of it will be those who live around these areas. However, if you know your child really enjoys reading about animals, no matter where those animals are from, then you should consider picking up this book.
If you’re looking for other nature books, you could combine this with Julia Rothman’s Nature Anatomy.
- Age Range: 5 – 9 years
- Grade Level: Kindergarten – 4
- Hardcover: 96 pages
- Author: Fiona Cohen
- Illustrator: Marni Fylling
- Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch Books (May 2, 2017)
Buy it on Amazon or from Little Bigfoot!
Disclosure: I received this book free from Little Bigfoot. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.