by Peter J. Marchand, Craig Brown

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This unfocused amalgam of nature study, mystical philosophy and discursive story will surely be over the heads of its intended audience. The cactus's role in nature is sought out by the book's protagonist (``Permit me to introduce myself. I am Poco, the curious scientist''), who, having been asked the title question, sets off to find the answer. The Native American Albert Redcloud offers some information and suggests that Poco consult the raven--which ``will not speak to you, of course . . . but if you watch closely, it will show you what you want to know.'' Poco encounters the bird: ``I followed the outstretched wings intently, letting my spirit fly after the raven wherever it would go, becoming in my mind the very soul of the Great Bird of the Desert.'' An unmistakably didactic tone may further alienate the reader. Brown's handsome, scumbled artwork adds the requisite atmosphere but otherwise does little to advance or amplify the book's content. Ages 6-10. (July)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-In a book that is more philosophical musing than natural history, a scientist named Poco asks the question posed in the title and then, through seeking the counsel of an old and wise Native American, Albert Redcloud, discovers the answer. Albert tells him about the giant saguaro and how it feeds the people of the desert. But his real message is that living things do not get their value from what they provide for people, but from the fact that they are part of the whole of creation. He sends Poco to talk to the raven, ``the Great Bird of the Desert,'' and while it is clear that Poco cannot talk to the bird, he observes its actions and discovers the basic interrelatedness of all life. While this book may not convince its target audience that things are good simply because they exist, it does raise important issues and would be a good discussion starter about the relationship between humankind and the rest of the living world. The vivid and intentionally grainy illustrations virtually sing the desert with its many hues of reds and yellows and browns. They capture the landscape with its heat and mystery and form a solid visual underpining for the quizzical nature of the text. This would be an excellent accompaniment to Barbara Bash's Desert Giant (Little, 1989).-Steve Matthews, Foxcroft School, Middleburg, VA

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Product Details

Rinehart, Roberts Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 10.12(h) x 0.13(d)
Age Range:
7 - 12 Years

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