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.