Even though wildlife photographer David FitzSimmons grew up in Ohio and Michigan, he spent a lot of time as a child on Indian Rocks Beach in Pinellas County.
“I saw lots of nature, and Florida is a place I have an interest in,” the author of new children’s book, “Curious Critters Marine,” said by phone recently.
FitzSimmons will be at Tampa’s Inkwood Books on Saturday for a World Oceans Day program that is part of a two-week book tour in Florida.
The new book, designed for ages 2-8, takes a look at sea creatures, fish and birds that live around the saltwater bodies. It is the third in a series with previous works being “Curious Critters” Volume 1 and 2.
The book, released on Earth Day, features close-up photography of sea life of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans as well as the Gulf of Mexico. The lined seahorse and the cushion sea star were photographed at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota.
Each creature then tells its story, as if it was talking to the children.
“I write each animal with its own voice so they learn language arts, too,” he said.
FitzSimmons said that his presentation at Inkwood will include storytelling and “dramatic readings.”
He said, “I use puppets to match the animals, and I want the kids to come up close,” as he shows how animals are part of an ecosystem on land and in the sea.
FitzSimmons, 45, said he grew up with education as a priority. His father ran an outdoor education program “and we always had turtles, lizards and more.” His mother was a teacher.
As a child, he traveled with them to education conferences and became a high school English teacher — and married a naturalist with whom he has three young daughters.
Photography was a hobby but grew into more with publication in magazines including “Outdoor Photographer,” “Popular Photography,” “Shutterbug” and more than 100 calendar credits. He is one of seven Sigma Pro photographers in North America. He also returned to graduate school and taught at Cornell University, Ohio State and Ashland University.
His next publication is “Salamander Dance,” set for spring 2015, that explores the annual life cycle of vernal pools.
Two board books, “Curious Critters Ohio” and “Curious Critters Michigan,” also are planned for publication.
“I want to do one for each of the 50 states,” he said, adding that Florida and Texas will follow Ohio and Michigan.