Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
- Reading age: 9 to 12
When we think of wild animals, we don't immediately associate them with the cities we live in. But a closer look soon reveals that we share our urban environment with a great many untamed creatures. Heavily illustrated with color photographs throughout and full of entertaining and informative facts, City Critters examines how and why so many wild animals choose to live in places that, on first glance at least, seem contrary to their needs.
How do those deer, raccoons, squirrels, skunks, coyotes, crows, gulls and geese—not to mention the alligators, eagles, otters and snakes—manage to survive in the big city? What special skills do city critters have that many of their wilderness cousins lack? Why have they developed these skills? And what are our responsibilities in ensuring that these animals can continue to share our city lives?
About the author
Nicholas Read is a journalism instructor at Langara College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He collaborated with Ian McAllister on several books, including Wolf Island, A Bear's Life, The Seal Garden and The Great Bear Sea and wrote City Critters, about urban wildlife. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
- Long-listed, Information Book Award nominee
- Commended, Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year
- Commended, CCBC Best Books starred selection
"The author offers ways we can help urban wildlife thrive...Beautiful color photographs break up the text, as do sidebars. Though most city dwellers surely encounter many of the animals written about here, this interesting and unique book brings to light the challenging lives of urban animals."
"[An] interesting and fact-filled book about the many creatures sharing our urban landscapes...Useful for a variety of classroom studies of ecology, the environment, and biology, this is a welcome addition to most collections."
School Library Journal
"[Read] presents a reasonably extensive menagerie of mammals, birds, reptiles and 'creepy crawlies' that urban or suburban U.S. and Canadian readers are more than likely to encounter...The mix of close-up and mid-distance color photos on every spread present their subjects in fetching poses...A broad, engagingly informal reminder that we are sharing our immediate surroundings, as well as our world in general, with others."
"Read includes information about familiar wildlife (raccoons, skunks, coyotes) and often overlooked urban critters (rats, birds, turtles, butterflies, bees)...[City Critters] is geared for kids and would be a great addition to school classrooms."
The Vancouver Courier
"Full of amazing, colourful pictures of mammals, birds, aquatic animals, reptiles and insects as well as informative facts. It makes one ponder what responsibilities humans must accept since we must share our space with these animals whose ancestors once ruled the wild space our cities used to be."
"Very informative...Readers will finish this book with a new appreciation of these [city-dwelling] animals."
Library Media Connection
"A thought-provoking investigation of the growing number of animals sharing urban environments with humans...Illustrated with numerous color photographs, Read demonstrates how human developments affect animals' abilities to thrive and survive, and leaves readers with plenty of food for thought."
"In the final chapter of this most readable book, the author offers ideas about what we can do to live with them in our neighborhoods. A glossary, a list of resources and an index are each helpful and are followed by an acknowledgement for the many scientists and researchers who study urban wildlife...There is so much here to read, to contemplate and to enjoy! Take the time you need to pore over the stories, the images, the information boxes and the humor infused into the sharing."
Sal's Fiction Addiction blog
"This beautifully illustrated volume introduces readers young and old to the diversity of wild animals that share urban environments with us. Through entertaining anecdotes and compelling and often humorous narrative, Nicholas Read explains where these animals live, how they have adapted to life in the city, and how we can better coexist with them...The book will find ready audiences among younger children, teens, and adults alike. A great resource for urban families seeking to learn more about the animals around them, City Critters also provides an excellent foundation for classroom studies in biology, geography, and environment."
The British Columbian Quarterly
"Balanced in-depth information about urban wildlife with a conversational tone and relevant examples from most major U.S. cities...The book manages to be unique without being overly sensational and is replete with factoids—I learned some new tidbits, and I have a PhD in this field! It has a little something for everyone, from younger kids newly interested in nature to teens and adults who may want to delve deeper into the causes of and solutions to conflicts between humans and wildlife. The issues surrounding urban wildlife go far beyond complaints about raccoons in the garbage or seagulls plaguing picnickers, and City Critters conveys that without getting too academic. Many animals' survival is contingent upon their ability to thrive in proximity to people, and we need resources like this to pass that message on."
The Chicago Reader
"An enjoyable exploration of urban wildlife...with lots of interesting stories and facts mixed in. This book should entrance city-living animal-loving tweens."
Washington State Young Adult Review Group
"Read has provided a comprehensive examination of the types of animals found in urban and suburban areas...The book has beautiful colour photos...[and] is written in an engaging and colloquial style which may be very appealing to younger and adolescent readers."
"This lavishly illustrated work explains how wildlife across North America has adapted to our increasingly urban environment, and it champions the theory that people and other creatures can successfully co-exist...The book offers a plethora of interesting information—much of it based on recent scientific studies—and every page boasts at least one colour photograph and sometimes an explanatory sidebar as well. Read is a good writer, with a flair for conversational flourishes...Read’s engaging writing style should appeal to the target audience of junior and senior elementary school readers. Certainly this work could be utilized by science instructors across North America."
Canadian Teacher Magazine
"Not a book to skim through as the conversational writing style is meticulous and rich with fascinating anecdotes about various human/wildlife encounters. Read's wry sense of humor infuses many of the tales, but the serious nature of the topic is never underestimated...City Critters will add significantly to the bank of knowledge on this topic by filling a spot that appears to be occupied by only shorter, less comprehensive titles aimed at a younger audience. Highly Recommended."
"This beautifully illustrated volume introduces readers young and old to the diversity of wild animals that share urban environments with us. Through entertaining anecdotes and compelling and often humorous narrative, Nicholas Read explains where these animals live, how they have adapted to life in the city, and how we can better coexist with them...The book will find ready audiences among younger children, teens, and adults alike. A great resource for urban families seeking to learn more about the animals around them, City Critters also provides an excellent foundation for classroom studies in biology, geography and enviroment."
City Critters: Wildlife in the Urban JungleInteresting anecdotes, colourful pictures and engaging writing result in an outstanding book that will strongly appeal to a wide range of readers. Its unique message — many kinds of animals have moved into the cities with us and they are here to stay — make it a great addition to any library or classroom collection. Read explains how a combination of habitat loss combined with good opportunities to find food have resulted in certain animals successfully moving into cities while others aren’t able to make that transition. Photographs and examples are used from all across North America, including several from BC. Each chapter focuses on one kind of animal, including land mammals, marine mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and spiders. A final chapter provides useful advice to make cohabitation more successful.
Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2012-2013.
City Critters: Wildlife in the Urban JungleWe share our urban environment with many untamed creatures who at first glance choose places to live that seem contrary to their needs. This book looks at how raccoons, squirrels, coyotes, geese, alligators, otters, snakes and others survive in the big city. It also talks about the responsibility we have to ensure these animals remain safe in our cities.
Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Spring, 2012.