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Critters Up Close

by Nic Bishop & illustrated by Nic Bishop

Age Range: 5 - 11

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-439-17478-3
Publisher: Scholastic

The talented photo-illustrator (Digging for Bird Dinosaurs, 2000, etc.) examines 125 backyard creatures, mostly insects, photographed life-sized and described in a detailed text. Creatures are presented in seven double-page layouts, each a composite of over 60 separate photographs. Following each habitat page are two pages of information and identification. He provides both the specific (how ladybugs take off for flight) and the more global (how critters fit together in the habitat and he invites the reader to become a backyard detective with hints and projects for exploration). Many creatures will be familiar to both urban and suburban dwellers; a photo index aids in identifying them. According to an endnote, the photographer used a computer and “cut-and-paste” technique to edit the photos of individual creatures and place them in the habitat collages in naturalistic poses. For example, a backyard meadow shows dragonflies, butterflies, ladybugs, bees, spittlebugs, caterpillars, and more crawling, climbing, and flying in and around milkweed, Queen Anne’s Lace, dandelions, and clover. Occasionally a magnifying glass is used to enlarge a part of the collage. Another composite shows flying insects as a backyard viewer would see them looking up—insects from the bottom look very different. With four kinds of spiders, five kinds of ants, and seven different butterflies, there is plenty here to keep young and adult viewers engaged and challenged. (Nonfiction. 5-11)