The Southwestern desert comes alive in this volume filled with striking images of animal families.
Laid out against an orange background, the earth-toned paintings of animal mothers and their babies tempt readers to look at the details—frequently prompted by a question in the text. The story begins with fox babies playing hide-and-seek as their mother tries to spot them against the backdrop of a vibrant mountain sunrise. Next, a bobcat mother and her kittens stare out at the reader, followed by a javelina and her reds (“The babies are called ‘reds’ because the color can be seen in their bristly hair”) and a doe with her fawns. Many of the animals are familiar: ravens, coyotes, and prairie dogs will come as no surprise to young readers. Others, however, may be revelations, including javelinas, elf owls, and ringtail cats, which “are related to the raccoon” and “are nocturnal animals.” For readers native to southern Arizona, where author and illustrator Burton (When I Grow Up, 2013) lives part time, it should be fun to see their regional animals highlighted. For others, the book should serve as an entertaining introduction to some intriguing creatures. The text is fairly pedestrian—nearly every page features some variation on the Southwestern desert, “where the sun shines brightly,” which feels more like a repetition than a pleasing refrain. But the wonderful artwork shines. And the invitations to count the number of kittens, guess what kind of creature a javelina might be related to, and decide whether a roadrunner’s breakfast is “yummy or yucky” are likely to charm young lap readers or emergent grade school students. Young equine enthusiasts are sure to fall in love with the idea of wild horses roaming free in the desert, and Burton’s romantic placement of feathers in a mare’s mane makes the rendering one of her most eye-catching. The collection of facts is a splendid introduction without being overwhelming, and the tone of the narrative is a comforting one, making this a likely selection for bedtime reading.
A beautifully illustrated collection of familiar and exotic creatures from the Southwest.