Seattle's Child

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Curious Kids Nature Journal cohen

‘Curious Kids Nature Journal:’ A perfect mix of information, illustration, encouragement

Local author Fiona Cohen and illustrator Marni Fylling invite young kids to explore and document

Seattle writer, nature lover and Seattle’s Child contributor Fiona Cohen will release her newest book next week, “Curious Kids Nature Journal: 100 Ways to Explore the Outdoor Wonders of the Pacific Northwest.”

The journal is a colorful, interactive followup to Cohen’s 2017 “Curious Kids Nature Guide” and yet again affirms the Pacific Northwest as a world of wonder and wondrous detail when it comes to the great outdoors.

A perfect place  

Between these pages, Cohen and illustrator Marni Fylling have created the perfect place for kids ages 6-11 to document what they see and learn in nature, whether at a park near home, in a forest, or along a beach.


Join Fiona Cohen in conversation with Seatte’s Child Things to Do editor Jasmin Thankachen on March 15 at Seattle’s Third Place Books Ravenna starting at 7 p.m. Or join them at Redmond’s Brick and Mortar Books, Redmond, on April 23 at 2 p.m.


Curious Kids Nature Journal is published by Seattle-based Sasquatch Books and goes on sale March 7.

Curious Kids Nature Journal cohen

Illustration by Marni Fylling

An invitation to observe and ponder

In it Cohen delivers fascinating facts and descriptions of animals, plants and sea life common in the region At the same time, she invites young people to look for, observe and record what they see by writing or drawing in the 176-page journal. She asks questions. Spot a black-tailed deer? When? What time? Where? What was the deer doing? Were there any fawns nearby? Get the details!

The author also encourages kids to be “citizen scientists” by sharing their observations with science groups like the Bumble Bee Watch project.

Beautiful, accurate illustrations

Fylling’s more than 100 gorgeous, scientifically accurate illustrations make identifying species easy. Together with Cohen’s writing and activity prompts, they promise to keep kids looking and discovering. This journal includes plenty of room for observations and a child’s own illustrations  — plus tips for doing making observations and drawing what the see. About the book itself, Cohen writes: “Don’t worry about getting it dirty. It’s supposed to be dirty. You should be proud of every smear.”

The journal is divided into four sections: Forest and Meadows, Beach, Freshwater, and Backyards and Neighborhoods. Each page gives a bit of information. For example: “On warm, dry days in the spring you can sometimes see brown patches near cracks in the pavement. Look closely, and these brown patches are swarms of pavement ants.”

An excerpt from the early pages of “Curious Kids Nature Journal”:
Curious Kids nature journal cohen

Illustration by Marni Fylling

Why have a journal? To keep a record of what you observe in the world. Observing means more than just looking at something. It means using a combination of senses to take in what’s in front of you. It means making measurements and asking questions about what you find. Questions like: How many? How big? Where was it going? What was it doing?

When you make a careful note of what you find with your senses and your measurements, you are using one of the most powerful tools ever invented for figuring out what is going on in the world: science. Scientists observe and they make sure to record what they actually find, even if it’s not what they expected to find.

How you record your observations and what you choose to keep in this book is entirely up to you. You can write or draw your observations — or both! Or you can take pictures and glue them on the pages. You can use tape to attach leaves you find. Maybe there’s a grown-up who can help you write things down. Or you might use a phone or a computer to take dictation for you, and then print out and glue your words here.

It’s fun to express yourself, and when you record your experiences, you think about them more and understand them more. If you struggle with writing as I did when I was a kid, don’t let it stop you from recording what you find.

Rules to follow

As you go out and explore nature, you need to follow some rules:

  • Be safe and obey the rules of the trail.
  • Be careful with the living things you are looking at. Don’t pick flowers. When you pick up a log or a rock, always put it back carefully when you are done. When you pick up an animal to look at it closely, be gentle and always put it back.
  • Take some time to stop and be quiet while you explore. When you do that you’ll notice a lot more.
  • Don’t worry about getting your hands dirty. There are a few living things that might sting you, but it’s safe to touch most things you find in the wild. Just be sure to wash your hands before you eat.

“Curious Kids Nature Journal” will be available in bookstores March 7.

Curious Kids Nature Journal cohen

Illustrations by Marni Fylling

Don’t miss author Fiona Cohen in conversation with Seatte’s Child Things to Do editor Jasmin Thankachen on March 15 at Seattle’s Third Place Books Ravenna starting at 7 p.m. Or join them at Redmond’s Brick and Mortar Books, Redmond, on April 23 at 2 p.m.

More book picks for kids (and other book news):

“I’ll Take Care of You,” a beautiful, comforting tale for kids

Meet Nina Laden, children’s author/illustrator from Lummi Island

About the Author

Cheryl Murfin

Cheryl Murfin is managing editor at Seattle's Child. She is also a certified doula, lactation educator for and a certified AWA writing workshop facilitator at