Berkes’ habitat series continues with this “Over in the Meadow” song about desert animals.
Using her proven formula, Berkes introduces readers to 10 desert animals (nine mothers and one father), what the babies are called, and one activity that the species engages in. “Over on a desert / Where the barrel cactus grew / Lived a mother gila monster / And her little hatchlings two. / ‘Flick,’ said the mother. / ‘We flick,’ said the two. / So they flicked with their tongues / Where the barrel cactus grew.” Clean page designs place the text on a vertical half-page along with a map with the desert highlighted and labeled (nine are featured: two in Asia, four in North America, two in Africa, and one each in Australia and South America) and the prominent numeral. The rest of the double-page spread displays the family group. The textured papers in Dubin’s collages give life to the animals and their surroundings. Other species include camels, meerkats, dingoes, armadillos, javelinas, desert tortoises, jerboas, roadrunners, and fennec foxes. Backmatter includes a “Fact or Fiction” section, details about both the featured animals and a hidden animal found in each scene, and suggestions for movements/activities to go with the song.
The series continues to engage and inform, though readers may wonder if Berkes knows any other tunes: This is one long-lasting ear worm. (author’s, illustrator’s, book designer’s notes; sheet music; bibliography) (Informational picture book. 3-8)