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Who Needs a Desert?: A Desert Ecosystem…

Who Needs a Desert?: A Desert Ecosystem (Ecosystem Series)

by Karen Patkau

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Usually when books involve the ecosystem, nature or non-fiction animals they can be hard to read for younger audiences since so many are either scientifically dry or badly organized. This beautiful book was well-organized, kept simple and given beautiful illustrations thus it will fascinate children of every age while also teaching them.

First of all the artwork is just beautiful, detailed and full of colors whether it is covering the day, the evening or the night. The animals that are included are realistic in some senses while the plants and landscape come beautifully to life in their own dimension. Plus with each mentioned animal being shown in the picture there is no need to wonder what the author is talking about.

The author did a great job in keeping the writing of the book simple and easy to understand for young readers although for some of the possibly harder words there is a Glossary to be found in the back. Even when the author moves topics she puts the change of the topic at the beginning of each page in bold big letters while then flowing back into the story of the desert life.

Scattered throughout the book are small diagrams to showcase a point or a small scientific section such as "How Desert Soil Forms" And then the book ends in "Who Needs A Desert?". The author takes these two pages to describe the problems that affect the deserts, gives a map of known deserts (Antarctica isn't included) and then gives the reason why we all need them - both desert life as well as humans.

Finally the last and beautiful finishing touch for me was More Information section. All the animals and plants that were viewed within the book have a picture taken from with the previous pages while are given a sentence or two detailing about another fun fact.

If I get another chance I would definitely like to get the other books within the series and see if they match up.

**Received this book as part of the Early Reviewers at Librarything.com for free in exchange for a review** ( )
  flamingrosedrakon | Aug 26, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Good book to have in a classroom library for students to start their research about an ecosystem. Easy to read, illustrations are good and creates a good starting point for kids learn about an ecosystem. ( )
  rsrwilhelm | May 22, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Although this book had good information about desert ecosystems, it is not something that I would pick as a first choice in my classroom. It would be something that I would use to supplement other books when students are doing research. The illustrations are nice, but not appropriate for a nonfiction text. I would prefer photographs or more realistic looking illustrations for accuracy purposes. I would also like pronunciation guides to help students with the proper way of saying some of the more complex terms in the book. ( )
  welburr | Mar 29, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
My seven-year-old daughter is very interested in nature and how things work and so I was excited to see I had received the opportunity to review this book with her, especially since she is within the age recommendation which is 7 - 10 years of age. The book is written in a way that uses proper words to explain yet is simple enough for younger readers. My daughter was able to read the book almost entirely by herself, only needing help on a few larger words. Each page has an image or diagram to accompany the text that helps readers who may learn better by seeing rather than just reading. The book kept my daughter engaged and inspired several questions so it provided a great learning opportunity. After finishing the book, she even asked if she could take the book with her to school to read to her class. This is the only book that I've read in Karen Patkau's Ecosystem Series so far but I will be getting the others for my daughter to read. Certainly a series that would make a wonderful addition to all libraries. My only issue with the book (and the reason I wanted to provide a 4 star rating though my daughter insisted I must give it a 5) is that I wish the images had been real photographs rather than digitally rendered art. The images give a good idea but lack the vibrant realness that deserts have because although they may seem like harsh areas, they are home to beautiful plants, animals, and scenery. ( )
  JaidisShaw | Dec 8, 2014 |
This book aimed at children aged 7-10 explains in very simple language how deserts were formed and introduces readers to plants and animals living in deserts. There are intermittent colorful photographs and a small glossary in the back.

I have a number of books on the desert, because we lived in the Sonoran Desert for ten years. Most of them are more attention-grabbing than this book, in the following ways:

1. Deserts have amazingly bizarre flora and fauna you won’t see anywhere else. This book provides no amusing or interesting facts about them (of which there are plenty) to create motivation for children to want to investigate further.

2. There are some nice photographs, but not nearly enough illustrations. I think that artistically rendered pictures with better labeling would be more attractive to children.

3. There is no guide whatsoever to pronunciation. Even adults who come late in life to the desert are surprised to learn the pronunciations for “saguaro,” “javelina,” “gila monster” and so on. Seeing all these new words without any clue of how to say them doesn't seem helpful.

By way of comparison, Meet the Wild Southwest by Susan Tweit is full of fun information that children would love, such as how many rattlesnake bites occur a year, the poor vision of javalinas, the way lizards clone themselves, how birds build nests inside saguaros, and how hawks and hummingbirds hover, to name but a few. She also accompanies the text with drawings, pronunciation guides, and sidebars with projects, “hot tips” and miscellaneous facts.

The Book of Answers about the desert by David Lazaroff takes the form of a question and answer book. While more detailed and suitable for readers at the older range of the 7-10 spectrum, it also has many drawings, pronunciation guides, and desert trivia. Produced by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, The Book of Answers addresses questions Museum docents hear most frequently, and so serves as a useful indicator of what might capture the imagination of kids: How do javelinas differ from pigs? Are scorpion stings deadly? What is the difference between cacti and other desert plants? Why are some hot places not deserts? Like the Tweit book, this one has lots of fun vignettes about gila monsters, desert snakes, kangaroo rats, pack rats, and other unique desert denizens. It also gives a lot more background on phenomena like why the desert is so arid, and how the monsoons work. (Patkau talks about “desert rain” but doesn’t mention the monsoon phenomenon, nor does she mention “haboobs,” another aspect of desert life children would find fascinating and entertaining.)

Evaluation: I would look for a more entertaining guide to the desert to give to kids. The desert is a fascinating place, but you wouldn’t know it from this book, which seems almost as dry as the desert itself. This is just my opinion, of course; the author has won a number of awards for her books for children. ( )
  nbmars | Nov 15, 2014 |
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