Common Critters celebrates neighborhood wildlife in verse. A familiar cast of characters—worms, slugs, caterpillars, ladybugs, robins, mourning doves, houseflies, spiders, squirrels, skunks, and others—crawls, runs, buzzes, and flits through these lively poems, which show how exotic these seemingly ordinary creatures really are.
Dan Tavis’s humorous illustrations crank up the delight, and a child wanting to learn more will find it in the natural-history backmatter. Pat Brisson employs a variety of verse forms in the book, and she shows how it’s done in a back-of-book feature called “A Peek into the Poet’s Toolkit.”
Common Critters is a three-tool STEAM book with delightful reading, natural history, and language skills rolled into one.
About the Author
Pat Brisson is the author of 20 books for young readers, including The Summer My Father Was Ten and Sometimes We Were Brave, Tummy Time Friends, and Common Critters. A graduate of Rutgers University, she is a former elementary school teacher, school librarian, and public-library reference librarian. Pat lives in New Jersey with her husband.
Dan Tavis has been doodling ever since his first math class in elementary school. He is the illustrator of Common Critters and has a passion to illustrate characters that emotionally connect with the viewer and tell stories through a visual narrative. Dan creates illustrations with watercolor, ink, and digital media.
Creatures receive their charming due in this bouncy collection of brief rhymes. The poems read and generally scan very well; each critter is the star of its own verse. Educators and parents will appreciate that the poems also provide interesting, easily digestible nuggets of scientific information. Delightful watercolor-and-ink cartoons add uncommon whimsy throughout and feature lush surroundings, shown additionally in lovely opening and closing spreads. An uncommon introduction to poetry.
— Common Critters
Superlative back matter elevates this illustrated collection of jokey poems celebrating neighborhood wildlife: “There are creatures all around you,/ not exotic, but not tame./ Though most are pretty common,/ they’re intriguing just the same.” Each critter gets its own poem on a spread illustrated with Tavis’s artful landscapes and goofily goggle-eyed wildlife. Brisson’s wordplay ranges from obvious ha-has (of crows: “And could this fact be much absurder?/ A group of you is called a murder!”) to sophisticated lines (of caterpillars: “It follows metamorphic urges/ to break out, and what emerges/ is a moth or butterfly/ that dries its wings and starts to fly”). A “Facts About Common Critters” section offers more information about the featured creatures (“A squirrel will crack open a nut and rub it on its face before burying it”) alongside a brief discussion of artistic license, while “A Peek into the Poet’s Toolkit” uses the poems to explain rhyme, meter, stanza, and poetic license.
— Common Critters
The poems are light and fun, while the entertaining illustrations will
draw in readers. — Susan Lissim, Dwight School, NYC