From School Library JournalGrade 6 Up-A useful resource for students seeking either quick facts or thematic discussions, this survey of our planet's drier regions alternates sections of maps and condensed specifics with more widely ranging topical chapters. The maps have an uncluttered look, as changes in elevation are denoted in large increments by slightly different shades of light brown, roadways and political boundaries are kept to a minimum, and many major natural or human-made features are indicated by numbers keyed to side notes, rather than labels. Liberally endowed with large, bright color photos, the topical sections begin with an analysis of how deserts form; close with an eye-opening look at why desertification has become a major environmental issue; and in between consider kinds of deserts, characteristic flora and fauna, natural resources, and deserts in human history. Despite a Eurocentric outlook in the historical chapters and a general lack of depth in the accounts of human cultures associated with deserts, this volume is recommended for deeper collections, after Michael Allaby's Deserts (Facts On File, 2001).John Peters, New York Public LibraryCopyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Deserts are beautiful places, even when unforgiving of those who do not respect their nature. This is an attractive book, written for the nonspecialist, that portrays that nature with a wealth of simple maps, lovely photographs, and considerable basic introductory information. Topical chapters, each dealing with some general characteristic such as physical geography, plants, or animals, are interspersed with atlas sections on the deserts of Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Australia and the Poles (the arid "cold deserts" of the Arctic and Antartica). Each major desert area is described by a location map, a larger desert map, a sentence or two about specific areas identified on the map, a fact file, and illustrations of some unique attributes. The deserts are not always easy to find on the small location maps.
This is both a browsing book and beginning reference book for the topics included. For the most part, the information and layout of the book are handsomely integrated. Many of the numerous sidebars include illustrations, but there are several (for example, the one describing the moloch in the chapter "Creatures of the Desert") that would have benefited from accompanying photographs.
The author concludes by discussing the exploitation of deserts and their resources and some environmental issues surrounding desertification. He ends on a somewhat hopeful note stating it is too early to tell what will happen because of climate change and the desertification process. A glossary, bibliography of books and Web sites arranged by chapter, and index complete the volume. The book is recommended for high-school, public, and undergraduate libraries, although the price will make it out of reach for some.