PreS-Gr 3—Bissonette crafts a factual, engaging narrative in this nonfiction picture book about tinajas. Tinajas, which are found in deserts, are "formed by a natural hollow in the rock where rainwater or melting snow collects." Factual information is featured throughout the narrative. Readers get a well-developed introduction to the desert and its inhabitants, and the author's note and resources provide additional information. Weiler's illustrations are reminiscent of lithograph-style vintage posters from the last century, and the soft layers and sunset palette used throughout the book lend an ethereal quality to each page. This book could be a good read-aloud and would work just as well at bedtime as in the classroom. The text has a gentle flow, and the illustrations capture the purples and blues of twilight. VERDICT Purchase this title, which is also an appealing read-aloud, for collections focusing on ecosystems and environmental science.—Jen McConnel, Queen's Univ., Ont.
If you’re thirsty in the middle of the Southwestern desert and you have claws, feathers, or fur, where do you go?
To a welcome water-filled depression worn into bedrock: the tinaja. As soon as the desert begins to cool with the setting of the scorching sun, sounds of rustling signal the stirring of creatures making their ways among the growing shadows. Timid quails, grunting javelinas, cautious mule deer, yipping coyotes, jackrabbits, foxes, bats, and rattlesnakes—each takes a turn for a drink, always watching for a dreaded hawk or prowling cougar. As the sun rises, heating the land, the animals shelter in the shade and wait for the evening once again. Bissonette’s poetic narrative, sprinkled with alliteration, leads readers seamlessly from one desert denizen to another. “A mountain lion approaches….It circles the tinaja with a slow sort of swagger.” Clarifying information bites regarding each featured element or animal accompanies the text. Inexplicably, the pronunciation of tinaja, a Spanish word, is not included anywhere. Weiler wraps the cooling landscape in purples, oranges, and blues. However, some depictions of the desert dwellers are inaccurate. The mountain lion resembles a domestic cat, and the javelinas are depicted with fur instead of bristles; others, such as the ringtail cat and foxes, are spot-on.
Uneven artwork aside, this exploration of water’s vital presence in an arid environment is sure to please. (author's note, bibliograrphy) (Informational picture book. 5-10)