Friday, March 18, 2016

Wild Ones

Wild Ones: Observing City Critters
by Carol L. Malnor; illus. by Cathy Morrision
32 pages; ages 5-8
Dawn Publications, 2016

theme: nature, urban animals

"Nature is all around us, even in the city." And when Scooter sneaks out the back door, we head off with him on his city tour of critter discoveries.

What I like about this book: Scooter starts off chasing a squirrel. Of course! But he doesn't notice the raccoon, or the possum. On each page we see what Scooter doesn't notice as well as what he does notice. Which makes you wonder: what am I not noticing around me? In this book you'll learn about gulls that sneak off with chip bags and bats that live under a bridge. While Scooter explores, his family is searching for him - and that story is told through illustrations.

I also like that Dawn books come with "back matter": pages of activities and more stuff to explore. For example, "squirrels are everywhere in the city..." and there's one on every page of this book. Go back and see what it's doing. What a great way to help kids develop their skills of observation.
Gull with chips... where's squirrel?

 Beyond the Book: Can a gull carry a bag of chips? Yes, writes the author. Not only that, one gull learned to shoplift bags of corn chips from a store.

Watch places where people eat food. What animals hang out and take people-food? Do they beg? sneak it away? shoplift? dumpster-dive? Check out this video of a squirrel who's got vending machines all figured out.

Make a list of the wildlife in your city or town. Remember to include birds, reptiles (like snakes and turtles) and amphibians, and insects. People have reported seeing coyotes, deer, bears, even mountain lions walking through their city.

Animal Watch ~ choose a wild animal to watch in your neighborhood. Observe it over several days. What time of day do you see this animal? What do you notice about its color, eyes, ears, mouth or beak, feet? How does it move? Where does it get its food and water?

Collect urban animal tracks. If you have a muddy spot in your yard, you might find tracks from animal visitors. If you have a sandy spot, you might find tracks from insect visitors. Draw or take pictures of tracks animal visitors leave.

Today's review is part of the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. We're also joining PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture BooksReview copy from publisher.


  1. I would have loved this one as a kid. Great pick for PPBF. Thanks :)

  2. Very cool! We get to see the extra "things" that the characters don't notice. A great way for kids to learn how to "read illustrations." I love the details they show. And I like how it can educate kids about being careful with their food and its packaging.

    1. I just wanted to let you know that there are extra resources available online, including handouts "How to Be a Good Neighbor to Wildlife" and "Tips for Seeing More City Critters." Go to, click on the "Activities" tab, and scroll to the book's title.

  3. Sold! I just have to get this book for my grandson. He will love it. And, I love the focus on urban animals. You are right, there is a lot we miss. But, I would like to miss the skunk that frequents my backyards some nights. Phew!

  4. This is the perfect book for me to read in Central Park!

    1. Although the city in the story is imaginary, cities from around the county were referenced for the vignettes and illustrations including Austin, Spokane, Washington, DC, and New York City's Central Park. I think you'll be able to tell which pages they are!

  5. Lovely details in these illustrations! I can imagine children poring over them, pointing things out.

  6. A friend down under recently posted a video of a koala walking down the sidewalk. I'd love to see that!