An early-reader introduction to the Gobi Desert.
The expository text introduces the Gobi Desert as “one of the wildest habitats on Earth.” Words in boldface are included in a backmatter glossary, and accompanying photographs help provide context clues for these words and others that might be unfamiliar to newly fluent readers. After identifying the desert as “the largest desert in Asia and the fifth largest in the world,” the text moves through its five regions, highlighting predator-and-prey relationships between animals that live in this harsh environment. Although the title’s reference to “Life” might make some readers look for information about flora or human life in the Gobi Desert, the book does very little to cover these areas. Perhaps more problematic is the frequent misalignment between text and photographs, which often introduce animal life without depicting the scenarios the text describes. For example, one passage reads, “A wolf nears a herd of khulan. Bark! The males yell and kick at it,” and the photo shows the donkeylike animals running, but there is no wolf present in the image. Later, desertification is described as a threat to unpictured “nearby cities,” and then text passes the buck to child readers, asking them, “What will you do to make a difference?” after imploring them to study science. Talk about harsh!
An uneven geographic offering. (Informational early reader. 7-9)