Deep in the Desert

School Library Journal - July 2011

This title presents a variety of desert habitats around the globe and their flora and colorful illustrations accompanied by rhyming texts to match existing songs.
- Patricia Manning

Library Media Connection - Nov/Dec 2011

The desert comes alive in this picture book filled with gorgeous illustrations and an appealing way of presenting facts. Using traditional songs and rhythms, the information presented can be sung, read, or chanted. Some of the desert animals included are unfamiliar, but readers will have a better understanding of them at the end fo the book. The illustrations are filled with details that bring the various settings to life, and the use of colors is striking. The facts presented are brief, but older readers will want to learn more, and younger readers will pore over the illustrations again and again. This book will make learning about deserts "anything but dry."
- Tracy A Fitzwater, Librarian, Crescent School District, Joyce, Washington

Science Books and Films - September 2011

Deep in the Desert is a collection of poems about the desert environment and its inhabitants, such as meerkats, desert tortoises, fennec foxes, and gila monsters. The poems can be sung to the tunes of well-known children’s songs (e.g., “Baa, Baa Black Sheep”), and the sheet music is available online. This would be a great resource in the elementary school classroom to provide different and interactive instructional material. An impressive variety of useful activities, lesson plans, and quizzes is also available online. Some of the final pages provide descriptions of different types of deserts (e.g., polar deserts, coastal deserts), and a game at the end of the book asks readers to match desert animals introduced in the poems with their descriptions. This collection of poems would likely be used in preschool to third-grade classrooms.
- Shelley Spohr, Griswold, CT

Portland Book Review - May 2012

What is even more fun than reading about the desert? Singing about the desert! Catchy twists on traditional and familiar children’s songs and nursery rhymes will have kids singing about cactuses, meerkats, camels, and even Gila monsters! Rhonda Donald’s book Deep in the Desert gives readers a unique way to learn about the flora and fauna of the desert. Sherry Neidigh’s illustrations bring the songs and the desert landscape alive. “Deep in the Desert” (sung to “Down in the Valley”) focuses on the nocturnal behavior of the bat and how they help pollinate cactus flowers as they eat. “Desert Tortoise” (sung to “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep”) has hot animals asking to come inside the shady burrow of the desert tortoise for an afternoon rest. Children will surely get a kick out of seeing their teacher or parents singing along with them. An educational section follows the story and includes activities asking readers to match up animals with their desert adaptations and one describing various desert habitats (polar deserts, coastal deserts, tropical deserts and more). Several activities make use of a big world map that spans two pages. Whether the words are sung or read aloud, this book will become a favorite.

Queen of the First Grade Jungle - March 2012

As I told you all a week or so again, I love teaching about the Desert.  Today I used this FANTASTIC book to talk to my students about the animal and plant adaptations. The book is full of children's tunes with a "desert twist." My students' favorite was the one about the Javelinas set to the tune of "I'm a little teapot," and I guarantee it had NOTHING to do with Mrs. King's singing!

Pragmatic Mom - July 2011

Set to nursery rhyme songs like Do Your Ears Hang Low and Baa Baa Black Sheep, the words are transformed to songs about desert creatures. It’s a delightful way to combine non-fiction with singing. My husband and I sang these repeatedly at our little boy’s insistence. It turns out that I’m the only one that knows the tune to Do Your Ears Hang Low … guess all those mommy and me music classes really sank in! In this case, though, I’m singing about the Fennec Fox! This is a diabolically clever concept! I love it! [picture song book, ages 4-9]

Yankee Texan Mom - June 2011

My daughter asked me to read this book to her again and again.  We learned about a Fennec Fox to the tune of  ”Do Your Ears Hang Low?” and about a Desert Tortoise to the tune of “Baa, Baa Black Sheep”.  I enjoy reading to my daughter and this book made it even more fun!

Just Another New Blog - May 2011

This wonderfully illustrated children's book introduces desert animals in an entertaining and educational way. The rhymes can be turned into songs following popular kids' melodies. The pictures are beautiful and in great detail. My kids loved Deep in the Desert, and all of us learned new things about desert creatures.

Heck of a Bunch - May 2011

Deep in the Desert is an explanatory book that tells of desert animals in singsong form.  For instance, children can learn about tarkawaras by singing to the tune of "Kookaburra" or learn about thorny devils by singing to the tune of "Yankee Doodle".  With the exception of a couple of them, the songs were all familiar to us.  

Home School Book Review - April 2011

Deep in the Desert is an extremely catchy way to introduce young students to life in the desert.  It is amazing to learn how various plants and animals adapt to such harsh conditions and then to see them so brilliantly illustrated by Sherry Neidigh.  In the back are six pages of activities such as further information about the desert habitat, desert fun facts, a map to locate the deserts of the world and find the answers to some questions, and matching the desert adaptations.  Additional learning activities may be obtained at the publisher’s website, including sheet music for the songs.  I have to agree with an observation from the inside front flap that this book makes learning about deserts anything but dry.

Book Loons - May 2011

The book includes many animals, and more fun is to be had reading their stories. Sherry Neidigh's wonderful illustrations show each desert animal as an individual within its own clan. - May 2011

This entertaining educational book takes children to the desert to meet the animal denizens. Each animal is described in a poem. But these aren't any poems. Each one is set to the meter of a popular children's song. And the song that each poem can be sung to is stated at the start of each poem. Children love to sing and love animals so they will love this educational book.

Feathered Quill Book Reviews - April 2011

The perfect book for the school or homeschool setting to begin a discussion of desert habitats and animals.

Story Time Under the Stars - May 2001

I started reading Deep in the Desert together with my eight-year-old son, and at first my two youngest sons had no interest in reading time. Then something caught my five-year-old's attention, and he made his way to the couch. When the three of us tried singing about the Thorny Devil to the melody of Yankee Doodle, my 20-month old became interested as well, and soon I had all three boys dancing around while singing a desert poem about the Thorny Devil.

Sherry Neidigh has accomplished something to make the desert life come alive through the pages of Deep in the Desert. Colorful and very detailed illustrations kept my sons asking questions and wanting to see more. Meerkats playing in the desert, the carefully illustrated desert tortoise and the especailly out-of-this world Gila monster kept my kids studying the illustrations, and we had to take many breaks as we were reading. Deep in the Desert is a very entertaining book that taught us all quite a bit about the desert including myself. My oldest was so excited about the rhymes that he wanted to read everything by himself, and that was surely a treat for me.

Books 4 Learning - April 2011

Rhonda Lucas Donald has written an entertaining and educational book of poems.   Children are exposed to the sound of poetic words, providing opportunities to practice or to teach about rhyme (slant, eye, and true), alliteration, and onomatopoeia.  Repetitive phrases and familiar tunes prompt children to participate in reading and reciting after a few exposures to the poems.   Donald uses a variety of sentence types—declarative, interrogative, and exclamatory.  Adults should point out these marks and teach how they are read differently.  Older children can learn their names and functions.   Most of the songs blend well with the poetic words.  Parents may want to practice briefly before beginning to get the hang of it.  I was not familiar with a few of them, but tunes are not difficult to find on the Internet.  One of the best parts of Deep in the Desert is the illustrations by Sherry Neidigh.   Whether it is a sweeping view of the horizon or an up close picture of small area of ground, her detail and color choices are impeccable.  They are an essential element of the overall desert habitat experience.