By Rhonda Lucas Donald Illustrated by Sherry Neidigh
Sylvan Dell Publishing, $16.95, 32 pages

What is even more fun than reading about the desert? Singing about the desert! Catchy twists on traditional and familiar children’s songs and nursery rhymes will have kids singing about cactuses, meerkats, camels, and even Gila monsters! Rhonda Donald’s book Deep in the Desert gives readers a unique way to learn about the flora and fauna of the desert. Sherry Neidigh’s illustrations bring the songs and the desert landscape alive. “Deep in the Desert” (sung to “Down in the Valley”) focuses on the nocturnal behavior of the bat and how they help pollinate cactus flowers as they eat. “Desert Tortoise” (sung to “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep”) has hot animals asking to come inside the shady burrow of the desert tortoise for an afternoon rest. Children will surely get a kick out of seeing their teacher or parents singing along with them. An educational section follows the story and includes activities asking readers to match up animals with their desert adaptations and one describing various desert habitats (polar deserts, coastal deserts, tropical deserts and more). Several activities make use of a big world map that spans two pages. Whether the words are sung or read aloud, this book will become a favorite.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Franklin