Picture Book Review: Common Critters

Common Critters by Pat Brisson
Common Critters: The Wildlife in Your Neighborhood
by Pat Brisson, Dan Tavis (Illustrations)

3 out of 5 stars

This book introduces common animals like pigeons, squirrels, spiders, skunk, earthworms, and butterflies. The text is written in rhyme, which is constructed quite well. I really like that none of these are farm animals. So many children’s books focus on farm animals instead of the type of animals that we normally see in our neighborhood or even in the city.

I am not always a fan of rhyme in children’s books, but I have no cause to complain of the rhyming in this book. The meter is good, and the rhymes are good, although a little contrived at times. However, most of the poems for each animal are four stanzas long. Any child young enough to be interested in an animal book will probably not sit through four stanzas of poetry on each page. Shorter would have been better.
The illustrations are really cute! I love the watercolor and ink style and the bright colors. However, the animals have really really large eyes. It looks odd. When a bird’s eyes are bigger than its wings, there is something off with the proportions. Of course, I know that in a cartoony style, the proportions are not supposed to be accurate, but I still found it weird-looking.

I’m not sure how I feel about all the violence in this book. On one page we learn about the earthworm, and on the next page the earthworm is eaten by baby robins. The earthworm is depicted as screaming while it is thrown into the nest of baby robins. Wow. That was brutal.
I know that it’s important to show children what really happens in nature, but gosh. Poor Mr. Earthworm!
The page for the praying mantis is the worst. There is a decapitated fly just lying there dead! Yuck! Fly carcass! Bleh. I bet kids would love that.

I do like that there is further information about each animal in the back of the book with some interesting facts and statistics.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts, and are not influenced by anyone.

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