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Whistling Thorns

Whistling Thorns

by Helen Cowcher

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-A successful description of one of nature's quiet miracles. On Africa's scorched grasslands, beneath hot purple skies and a hazy orange sun, grow the juicy green acacias that rhinoceros and giraffes find so delectable. Over time, the bushes have developed gall-shaped thorns into which ants chew entrance holes to make their nests. As the wind blows across the holes, strange flutelike music is created. The thorns, combined with their stinging inhabitants, help to deter overgrazing of the individual plants and, thus, achieve a natural balance. As in Cowcher's Rain Forest (Farrar, 1988), her soft realistic watercolor and gouache illustrations capture the area's flora and fauna, often from unusual perspectives. Ant's-eye and bird's-eye views and closeups from a human perspective are combined to create an intimacy not readily achieved in real life. The vastness of the plain stretches across double-page spreads in hot reds and dry oranges, giving a feeling of timeless, open spaces. The brief text is to the point and accurate, and while the book works as a story, its main appeal lies in its dramatic, expertly executed illustrations.-Lisa Wu Stowe, Great Neck Library, NY
Janice Del Negro
In a fashion reminiscent of a how-and-why story, Cowcher explains the natural phenomenon of the whistling thorns of Africa's grassland acacia bushes. Over time, the acacia, a favorite food of giraffes and rhinos, developed thorns to protect itself from animal overgrazing. Ants make entrance holes in the bulblike base of the thorns, and when the savanna wind blows, "it pipes through the holes like the music of a thousand flutes." Cowcher's watercolors are done with a warm palette and an eye for close-up details that will fascinate children. The adroit combination of narrative appeal with natural history makes this an effective piece of nonfiction for the pre- and just-reading sets.

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.77(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.39(d)
Age Range:
11 Years

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