In a cadence reminiscent of Arnold Lobel’s The Rose in My Garden (HarperTrophy, 1993), Fredericks utilizes a cumulative rhyme to introduce the community of a Saguaro cactus. A young boy observes the impressive plant and wonders, “Who could be living on this arid ground?” As night falls, he walks away and the animals begin to “play and prey.” First, “A leaping rat builds a cozy nest/(A sheltered place for her young to rest)/Beside the cactus tall and grand,/A haven for creatures in a waterless land.” Each additional verse conveys a few facts about another desert inhabitant. A “Field Notes” section at the end explains that these animals can be found in the Sonoran desert and provides some background about each of them. DiRubbio’s vibrantly colored and detailed illustrations-including pictures of a speckled Gila monster and sharp-eyed owl-are sized perfectly to provide clarity. Combining an elegant text with dramatic artwork, this book is an attention-grabbing read-aloud and a winner for any collection.
— School Library Journal (September 2004)
A young boy looks at a cactus in the desert, and assuming that nothing else could live on this arid ground he walks away and misses the community of animals that live in and around the cactus and come out at night. This picture book would be a great addition to a science program. It is appropriate for a study of ecosystems in general, a general study of animal adaptations, or a study of desert animals in particular. The book is also a treat for pleasure reading. The text is written in rhyming verse and the repetition builds with the arrival of each new animal at the cactus “a haven for creatures in a waterless land.” The text is lyrical and reads aloud beautifully. The illustrations are also appealing–accurate and detailed. Also included is a letter to the reader, field notes and fantastic facts for each animal featured, suggestions for further reading and organizations to contact. Fredericks has also written Under One Rock: Bugs, Slugs and other Ughs and In One Tidepool: Crabs, Snails and Salty Tales.
— Children’s Literature – Renee Englot
A saguaro cactus standing in the desert may look lonely, but as this book shows, it is actually “a haven for creatures in a waterless land.” On each spread, a new animal appears around the cactus. Owls nest in its shelter. Bats sip nectar from its flowers, pollinating them in the process. Snakes watch for prey beneath the plant’s spiny arms. In the back of the book, a mini-field guide provides even more information about cactus critters.
— Your Big Backyard
National Wildlife Federation Magazine (August 2005)
Detailed illustrations and rhyming text present information about the saguaro cactus and some of the animals, birds, and reptiles that share the U.S. Sonoran desert habitat. The rhyming meter invites readers (or listeners) to discover a wealth of facts about the seven particular creatures that are depicted in illustrations. In-depth field notes and additional sources for ecology study are included. Captivating and realistic artwork combined with detailed text supports the curricular areas of ecology, animals, habitat, desert life, poetry, and U.S. geography.
— The Reading Teacher – Notes for Teacher’s Choice Award Winners for 2004 (November 2004)
Around One Cactus: Owls Bats and Leaping Rats, by Anthony D. Fredericks, is a picture book that introduces readers to some of the creatures who make their homes in and around the saguaro cactus. The rhyming text follows the pattern and rhythm of The House That Jack Built. Watercolor-like illustrations by Jennifer DiRubbio portray the creatures in a dream-like way, showing surrounding flora. A “field notes” section after the text offers more factual information about each creature. This is a delightful book for children ages five through eight.
— Connect (www.synergylearning.org) (May/June 2008)
From a review of Around One Cactus and Saguaro Moon:
Nicely illustrated and clearly written children’s books on the natural world are always a welcome addition to the bookshelf. Dawn Publications has produced two of them.
. . . Around One Cactus: Owls, Bats and Leaping Rats is for somewhat younger readers. This also focuses on the desert and its plants and animals, but in a long rhyming poem. The book shows how one saguaro cactus can be home to and sustenance for a variety of creatures. The text is catchy, although the rhymes are too predictable. Field notes at the end give some information about creatures such as Gila monsters.
. . . Both of these books bring the desert alive for young readers in a creative way.
— New Mexico Magazine – Miriam Sagan (June 2004)
This is a colorful book about a young boy looking at a cactus in the desert and wondering who might be living “on this arid ground”? The first page contains a letter written by a diamondback rattlesnake inviting the “two-legged adventurer” to explore the saguaro cactus and find out all of the animals that call it home. A cumulative story follows describing the part of the cactus and the surrounding desert that each animal chooses to occupy. The large, detailed illustrations colorfully depict each home and its inhabitant. The “Field Notes” at the end of the book describe the animals in detail and include an unusual fact. A bibliography about ecology and a list organizations that can be contacted for further information are also included. Young children will enjoy the rhythm and rhyme of this cumulative ecology book about the desert. Recommended.
— Library Media Connection – Kathleen Harrity (March 2004)
A boy looks at a saguaro cactus in the desert and asks, “Who could be living on this arid ground? It looks . . . well, deserted.” So he walks away. Little does he suspect that at sundown, a whole community of creatures – some cute, some creepy – comes out to play and prey. Fredericks has written in entertaining, repetitive rhyme that culminates in successful learning, and teams field notes and resources with DiRubbio’s life-like illustrations. This is the third book in a series that portrays interesting North American habitats in which animals are seen as a community with species surviving side by side in a distinct region. The important message of this book is that while we may all be different, we also share commonalities. Ages 4 to 10.
— Arizona Networking News (Oct./Nov. 2003)
It’s a great little book, accurate and interesting. I think kids and parents will both enjoy it.
— Mark Dimmitt, Director of Natural History, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (February 2003)
This is another of Tony Fredericks’ wonderful science books that are a “must purchase” for an elementary school library. It is delightful, and written in the same rhyme scheme as Under One Rock, which my students adore. The creative way that Tony used words creates an almost “interactive” feeling between reader and book. This method teaches children more that any other!
— Elizabeth Hall, Media Specialist, Brennen Elem., Columbia, S. Carolina (February 2003)
What a great way to teach children ages 4 to 10 about living in the desert and what kind of cactus and animals you will find. The pictures and art are awesome and keep children’s attention. Children will learn new words and what type of things one would find in the desert.
“I never knew all these animals lived in the desert and I didn’t know much about cactus until I read this. It rhymes which we are learning about in school now. I liked the color in the pictures and it was easy to read. I learned some new words and now I am smarter. My Nana and I gave this book and others that I reviewed to a shelter for moms and kids. You have to read to get smarter.”
“Around One Cactus: Owls, Bats and Leaping Rats was another book Zoey loved, she is very interested in who lives in different parts of the world, what they eat and are they dangerous. Zoey has decided this year that any books she reviews she will share with kids who are homeless or living in a shelter.”
— Kids Reader Views – Zoey Crane (age 6) and Nana (November 2010)