January 20, 2011

Way Out in the Desert

'Way out in the desert near the ocotillo door
lived a rattlesnake mother and her baby snakes four.
"Rattle!" said the mother.  "We rattle!" said the four,
so they rattled in the shadow of the ocotillo door.'

Based upon the children's song "Over in the Meadow," Way Out in the Desert by T.J. Marsh and Jennifer Ward transported us right into the heart of the Sonoran Desert.  With each new verse, we met new and unusual desert dwellers such as Gila monsters, javelinas, and horned toads.   At it's core, Way Out in the Desert is a clever counting book.  The number of animals increases with each new verse, and the corresponding number is hidden on each page.  The spectacular illustrations by Kenneth Spengler really bring the desert creatures to life.  Living in Texas, we're familiar with most of the creatures featured in Way Out in the Desert, but we enjoyed referring to the glossary in the back of the book to learn more about a few of the more unfamiliar things like saguaros and palo verde trees.  The melodic text is a delight to read, even if you're not familiar with the original tune.  Luckily, sheet music for the song was thoughtfully included on the last page, an entertaining bonus for a certain little girl with a brand new keyboard! 

So the next time you feel the urge to run with the roadrunners or jump with the jackrabbits, Way Out in the Desert is a one-way ticket to a Sonoran Desert adventure.


  1. You seem to have a knack for finding some really neat books, and your blog posts have been so well written, right from the start!

    This book sounds just perfect for an informal lesson on Texas and the southwest. The Littlest Apple has been very curious about geography lately, and this would be a great way to teach him some of the animals of the desert.

  2. I have to get this for my grandchildren. I LOVE the land where the ocotillo grow!

  3. Cara - Thank you! This book would be a great introduction to desert animals. You guys will love it!

    Jill - I thought of you as I typed up this review! :)

  4. Thank you for the shout out : )
    Way Out in the Desert was the very first book I had published, back when my daughter was very young. Sharing children's books with her is one of my fondest memories as a mom.
    Not sure where in TX you are, but I'll be in San Antonio for a week, visiting schools/kids in the North East Independent District. Looking forward to it!
    Happy Reading,
    Jen Ward