cover image Common Critters: The Wildlife in Your Neighborhood

Common Critters: The Wildlife in Your Neighborhood

Pat Brisson, illus. by Dan Tavis. Tilbury House, $17.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-88448-691-6

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. Ages 6–8. [em](Apr.) [/em]