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Sand Swimmers: The Secret Life of Australias Desert Wilderness

by Narelle Oliver

Book list Dead Heart is one of earth's most inhospitable places a desert in the isolated center of Australia. In spite of the harsh conditions, it is teeming with life and offers some of the best examples of adaptation on the globe. Using the journals of Charles Sturt, a British explorer who, in 1844, was one of the first Europeans to brave Australia's interior, Oliver seamlessly weaves a true narrative with stunning artwork and a scientific catalog of animal life. She uses Sturt's fruitless search for an inland sea to walk readers through scrubland, desolate fields of red-hot rock, and endless sand dunes. These places that so few humans ever visit are home to all manner of animals, from geckos and honey ants to marsupials and snakes, each with its own peculiar adaptation for survival. Oliver's expressive and detailed linocut illustrations, filled in with earth-toned colored pencil, include a numbered index of all the species mentioned. Using primary sources, firsthand experiences, and scientific observations, Oliver manages to marry human and natural history into a beautiful and symbolic book about perseverance.--Anderson, Erin Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 2-5-This picture book gives readers an enchanting look at the Australian wilderness. The succinct narrative is rife with visual imagery ("frogs burrow deep into the forest clay and make a waterproof cocoon, like plastic wrap"), and the beautiful illustrations, rendered in detailed pen and ink, depict the colors of the desert, from turquoise to rust, Oliver portrays Australia's unique geographic center: the Dead Heart, home to a host of extraordinary flora and fauna. Children will learn about a notable British explorer, Charles Sturt (1795-1869), who led several expeditions into Australia in search of an inland sea. The addition of Sturt will cultivate interest in the historical aspects of discovery and further enhance the descriptions of the desert itself, such as the mention of spinifex (a "strange prickly grass") that frequently entrapped Sturt's horses. Boxed graphics, pictorial borders, and indigenous language etymology further elaborate detailed descriptions of this strange yet wonderful ecosystem. Highly recommended for science and history collections.-Kathryn Diman, Bass Harbor Memorial Library, Bernard, ME (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.