Odd Birds & Fat Cats (An Urban Bestiary)

Peter Wortsman Aurélie Bernard Wortsman


Ravens in Berlin . . . Parakeets in Brooklyn . . . Chickens in Tel Aviv . . . Spiders in Cognac. City creatures spark the imagination and intellect in words and art by this father-daughter team.

Odd Birds & Fat Cats (An Urban Bestiary) is an illustrated collection of brief observations on city creatures. Inspired by the tradition of the medieval bestiary, bestiarum vocabulum, a 12th-century bestselling genre that chronicled animals and beings both real and fantastical, the book features pithy impressions of birds and animals that delight, confound, and edify, written by Peter Wortsman, coupled with detailed naturalist artwork by his daughter, Aurélie Bernard Wortsman.

Featured creatures include:

  • Pigeons: “When, finally, it takes flight . . . this asphalt-colored bird is like a piece of the pavement which by some fluke of gravity broke loose and is foolishly falling upward by mistake.” 
  • Seagulls: “Fallen splinters of eternity, they hang overhead with the equanimity and mild disdain of angels in a medieval altarpiece, and unlike pigeons, refuse any direct contact with man.”
  • Ants: “Micro-managers in three-piece bodies, ants parody human antics to a tee. Or is it the other way around?”
  • Dust mites: “Every time you scratch yourself or comb your hair, you are feeding the tiny intruders with the detritus of self.”

With four-color images throughout, printed in a beautiful hardbound edition, this one-of-a-kind volume will please the discerning animal lover, traveler, art lover, iconoclast, and literati on your gift list—and, of course, also you!


  • “What a wonderful collaboration, and between father and daughter, sure to be a bestseller.” —Kate Taverna

  • “Aurélie is an amazing artist.” —Jeannette Watson