City Critters: Wildlife in the Urban Jungle

City Critters: Wildlife in the Urban Jungle

by Nicholas Read
Orca Book Publishers, 2012
ISBN 9781554693948 (sc)
$19.95, 144 pp, ages 8 – 12

Divided into nine chapters, this lavishly illustrated work explains how wildlife across North America has adapted to our increasingly urban environment, and it champions the theory that people and other creatures can successfully co-exist. Nicholas Read, a Vancouver-based journalist and teacher, argues that urban animals—from the ubiquitous raccoon to the extraordinary Manhattan-dwelling coyote—deserve our understanding and protection. The chapters cover pretty much every type of creature that can survive and sometimes thrive in urban and suburban communities, including land and marine mammals, fish, birds, insects, reptiles and amphibians. The book offers a plethora of interesting information—much of it based on recent scientific studies—and every page boasts at least one colour photograph and sometimes an explanatory sidebar as well. Read is a good writer, with a flair for conversational flourishes (in relation to spider webs, he dryly notes, “Then it is good bye insect and hello dinner.”). This superbly edited work includes hundreds of colour photographs, a glossary, two pages of additional web-linked resources and a detailed index.

Curriculum Connections: Read’s engaging writing style should appeal to the target audience of junior and senior elementary school readers. Certainly this work could be utilized by science instructors across North America. For example, the prescribed learning outcomes in the BC “Life Science” curriculum demand that grade 4 students “compare the structures and behaviours of local animals and plants in different habitats and communities” and that grade 6 students be able to “analyse how different organisms adapt to their environment.”

Review by George Sheppard.

This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Sept/Oct 2014 issue.

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