DESERT VOICES by Byrd Baylor


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The separate intonings of a pack rat, a jackrabbit, a spadefoot toad, a rattlesnake, a cactus wren, a desert tortoise, a buzzard, a lizard, a coyote, and a ""desert person"" --each describing its way-of-desert-life. ""I wait for/ the first summer storm,"" says the spadefoot toad, ""for wild, hard, sudden,/ heavy rain/ that pounds the land/ above me/ and calls me from/ my hiding place."" Baylor's prose has, as usual, a certain mesmerizing quality; and apart from the animal lore, there are some lessons too--""We kill nothing,/ harm nothing alive,"" says the buzzard. ""I only take what is waste./ When I go/ I leave nothing/ but bones."" But there is no connection between the segments except for the reverential tenor of the whole (which somewhat blunts the intrinsic survival message); and the enterprise has no shape or structure except for terminating with the testimony of a ""desert person."" Still, youngsters who've responded to earlier Baylor/Parnall collaborations will likely find the combination of the precise and the impalpable, common to both text and pictures, affecting in this instance too.

Pub Date: April 6th, 1981
ISBN: 0689716915
Publisher: Scribners