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Deep in the Desert

Deep in the Desert

By: Rhonda Lucas Donald
Illustrated by: Sherry Neidigh
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication Date: March 2011
ISBN: 978-1607181255
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: April 2011

How do you get children excited to learn about the desert when it can be such a dry topic (pun intended)? How about tailoring the text to fit perfectly with popular children’s songs and livening it up with gorgeous, detailed drawings? That’s exactly what you’ll find in this new book from Sylvan Dell Publishing.

Deep in the Desert includes discussion of a wide array of desert animals, many of whom are not normally mentioned in early reader books. Consider the javelina, tarkawara, and thorny devil as well as the more recognized ostrich and tortoise. Even the lowly, but very important, cactus gets a song as does the desert itself. Each of these creatures/”things” is given a lovely, two-page spread with facts intertwined into funny songs set to such famous tunes as “Down in the Valley,” and “The Itsy, Bitsy Spider.” Consider the ostrich song:

(sung to “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”)
There is an odd birdy that never could fly.
I wonder why the bird cannot fly.
Do you know why?

At the end of the song, along with many facts about this big bird, the reader is given the reason why “the bird cannot fly.”

There is so much detail in every drawing that children will linger on each page to seek out all the animals and flora hidden within the artwork. Parents will appreciate the accuracy of the pictures and superb educational value this book offers. In the back of the book are six pages of information/study guides that include fun facts, a matching game and a world map showing the deserts of the world. There are additional resources provided on the publisher’s website.

Quill says: The perfect book for the school or homeschool setting to begin a discussion of desert habitats and animals.

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