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Chasing Bats and Tracking Rats

Urban Ecology, Community Science, and How We Share Our Cities

By Cylita Guy PhD
Illustrated by Cornelia Li
Interest Age: 9–12
Grade: 4–7
Reading Level: Common Core Correlations
CCSS.ELA-Literacy Strand-Reading literature: RL.3.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

Reading Level: Lexile 1070L
Hardcover : 9781773215389, 104 pages, November 2021 , 9.75" x 7.5"
Paperback : 9781773215396, 104 pages, November 2021 , 9.75" x 7.5"
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781773215402, 104 pages, October 2021

Table of contents

Introduction: Living in the Urban Jungle

Talk Like an Urban Ecologist: Key Terms

Chapter 1: Chasing Down Big Browns
How much do wildlife rely on city green spaces? Cylita Guy tracks bats in Toronto, Canada.

Chapter 2: Ratmobile to the Rescue
How do animals in cities affect human health? Kaylee Byers studies how rats move around Vancouver, Canada.

Chapter 3: Bees and Bug Vacuum
Why are cities a good place to study the impact of climate change on bees? Charlotte de Keyzer looks at what bees and the plants they pollinate can tell us about the effects of climate change in cities like Toronto, Canada.

Chapter 4: Backyard Bear Buffet
What happens when humans and wildlife in cities don’t get along? Jesse Popp gets to the bottom of human-bear conflict in Sudbury, Canada.

Chapter 5: Bold Coyote, Bashful Coyote
How are humans changing animal behavior in cities? Chris Schell studies coyote behavior in Utah and Washington, and looks at how human policies like redlining affect urban biodiversity.

Chapter 6: Microplastics, Major Problems
How does the pollution we create affect city animals? Rachel Giles wades into Toronto’s waterways to discover the impacts of pollution on invertebrates.  

Chapter 7: Birdwatching Bias
What happens when citizen science doesn’t tell us the whole story? Deja Perkins asks how human bias can affect what we know about birds in cities like Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh, North Carolina.   

Chapter 8: A Bike to Beat the Heat
Why are greener cities better for people? Carly Ziter pedals around Madison, Wisconsin to track how trees cool cities. 

Conclusion: But this is only the beginning!


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Gripping narrative non-fiction with STEM and social justice themes that proves cities can be surprisingly wild places—and why understanding urban nature matters.

What can city bees tell us about climate change? How are we changing coyote behavior? And what the heck is a science bike? Featuring the work of a diverse group of eleven scientists—herself included!—Dr. Cylita Guy shows how studying urban wildlife can help us make cities around the world healthier for all of their inhabitants. In the process, Guy reveals how social injustices like racism can affect not only how scientists study city wildlife, but also where urban critters are likelier to thrive. Sidebars include intriguing animal facts and the often-wacky tools used by urban ecologists, from a ratmobile to a bug vacuum. Cornelia Li’s engaging illustrations bring the scientists’ fieldwork adventures to life, while urban ecology challenges encourage readers to look for signs of wildlife in their own neighborhoods.

*A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection


  • Nominated, Yellow Cedar Award 2021
  • Joint winner, New York Public Library’s Best Books List 2021
  • Long-listed, Rocky Mountain Book Award 2022
  • Commended, Science Writers & Communicators of Canada Book Award 2022
  • Nominated, AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books Award 2022


“A high-interest, intriguing piece of work . . . Curious readers will find this book easy to read and will learn plenty along the way. Teachers could use it to start a discussion or begin a unit on the ecosystems in urban areas.”

- School Library Connection, 11/21

“If city ecology is your thing, this is a good starter book for any age.”

- SMS Nonfiction Book Reviews, 01/21/22

“Acute yet entertaining writing on an exciting and diverse cohort of real-life scientists makes this book a wonderful urban ecology text for an elementary or even middle school library.”

- School Library Journal, 02/22

“This is Cylita Guy’s first book of nonfiction, and she does it up right. . . . Each scientist, whose work is highlighted, shares stories, research, and adventure. They also offer a challenge for readers . . . Their stories are funny, terrifying, and intense. They offer good advice, entertain, and inform. Questions asked require critical thinking, and discussion.”

- Sal’s Ficiton Addiction, 02/19/22

“Gripping narrative . . . Highly recommended for school and public library collections.”

- Canadian Children’s Book News, Fall/21

“Will satisfy curious readers!”

- Best Books for Kids and Teens, Fall/21