Animals and plants in Australia’s Simpson Desert have made remarkable adaptations in order to survive in that brutally arid wasteland.
After rainfall ends a seven-year drought, this hostile environment teems with life. Seedlings and animals that have lain dormant for years come alive, and many animals emerge from cooler hiding places seeking prey and newly formed bodies of water. The author records a day in the life of the desert as birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and plants revel in the glory of water and relative coolness of the world’s longest parallel sand dunes. Well and clearly written, the book introduces young readers to many animals children have likely never seen nor heard of and helps them understand the fascinating ways in which animals and other life-forms have adapted to this extreme climate. Helpful pronunciation guides are incorporated within the text. Van Zyle’s acrylic paintings, while realistic, are only serviceable. They lack a sense of movement and real drama, though the artwork does present readers with a good idea of the scale and wonderful colors of the red desert landscape. The book might have benefited from the photographs Miller took on her three-week field trip to Simpson with a scientific team from the University of Sydney.
Enjoyable, interesting reading for animal lovers and browsers alike. (author’s note, glossary, temperature chart, bibliography of books and websites, maps) (Informational picture book. 7-10)