Southwest Children's Literature

Sun Logo

Cactus Poems

Book Review:

Cactus Poems by Frank Asch (text author) and Ted Levin (photographer) is about the preservation of nature in the Sonoran Desert, including plants, wildlife, and the surrounding environment. The author emphasizes that the desert environment is fragile, with many species of animals and plants making the desert their home. Many of Levin's photographs in the book were taken at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum near Tucson, Arizona. The poetry of the Sonoran Desert's plants, animals, and environment is beautifully intertwined with photographs of the same subject matter as the text. Other associated themes of the poetry book include exploration of the desert environment's secrets, vitality, and humor. This book would especially be useful when combined with interdisciplinary activities, such as art, reading, language arts, science, and social studies. The combination of text by Asch and photographs and notes by Levin makes for a great book for students in grades three to six to read in the classroom. I would highly recommend this book to educators primarily for accuracy of its content of the four North American deserts, including the Sonoran, Mojave, Great Basin, and Chihuahuan Deserts. Many of the photographs were taken in Saguaro National Park of the Sonoran Desert.

The focus of the book Cactus Poems is to balance the delicate situation of preserving the natural beauty of the desert environment with the progress of development in its encroachment of the desert ecosystem and its natural habitats. The desert is home to animals, plants, and people, which are gradually becoming a major issue of competition for limited resources. Water is by far the most limited resource in the desert, as plants, animals, and humans each depend upon water for their lives. The emphasis of the author's poetry is to portray that the desert environment contains valuable resources, which is complimented with excellent color photographs of desert environments. Future generations of humans will hold the key to preserving natural desert habitat. Poetry about the life forms surviving in a fragile desert environment is one form of literature that can be utilized to pass on the word of treating the desert ecosystem with respect. Humans play an ever-increasing role in how the desert environment is impacted, whether for the better or the worse, depending upon the degree and means of development. (April 2000).


to mainpage

About the Book | Book Review | Children's Voices | About the Reviewer