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Book Review: Curious Kids Nature Guide

Curious Kids Nature Guide: Explore the Amazing Outdoors of the Pacific Northwest, By Fiona Cohen, illustrated by Marni Fylling, published by Little Bigfoot, 2017

As the first daffodils and crocuses begin to evade winter’s grasp, thoughts turn to the outdoors and the bounty of adventures to be had in our local environs. It is time for the Bufflehead on the lake to head north to their breeding grounds in Alaska and Canada, and for the Osprey to return from their warm holiday in Mexico and South America. Little Bigfoot (an imprint of regional publisher Sasquatch Books) indulges our yearning for getting outside, with a charming book published last spring. This hardcover nature book for ages 6–10, is graced with accurate color illustrations and appealing monochromatic artwork.

The book is divided into 4 sections: Forest, Beach, Freshwater, and Backyards and Urban Parks with short introductions to common flora and fauna. Some of my favorite facts after perusing:

A wild honeybee visits up to 50 flowers per trip from the hive and on a good day, she can forage at more than 2000 blossoms.

Male earwigs have curved pincers while the female pincers are straighter.

The common white butterflies we see thrive on plants from the mustard family.

Feathers over the nostrils of a woodpecker keep it from breathing in splinters as it hammers into hard wood. Extra eyelids keep its eyeballs from popping out from the force of frequent and intense hammering. And, best of all, “When woodpeckers aren’t feeding, their tongues coil back into their heads, around their brains.” I put that one in quotes so you wouldn’t think I made it up!

Of course, one fact leads to other questions: If ospreys go to South America for the winter, when do they come back? Where do they stay along the way? Then again, curious kids nowadays have the resources to quickly find the answers to the questions any book does not answer.

I was hoping there might be some information on maple trees here, being as top portions of three tall ones landed on our roof last week. But alas, the book focuses on conifers of which, I understand from the tree service and the open space officials, there aren’t enough of on our hillsides these days. They have not grown in after the maples as was once the natural cycle. And many of the maples are now “over mature” and the conifers aren’t there to keep the hillsides protected in the winter so heavy rains can compromise the maples’ roots.

~Anne Depue

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