Pratt-Serfini has created a joyful probe that will capture the interest and imagination of young readers. A young narrator explores Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, cleverly recording her musings, scientific facts and questions, and accounts of her experiences in a nature journal decorated by her paintings of the native plants and animals and of her new friends. The watercolors masterfully draw attention to the exciting aspects of the desert that Megan has discovered and studied. On one side of the spread, a frame of the flora and fauna surrounds the central action in the youngster’s adventure. It faces bits and pieces of articles and reveries decorated by cutouts that will inspire young readers to make their own study and nature journals. Though the Library of Congress has classified the book as nonfiction, everything except the scientific facts – the textual citations, characterizations, and plot – is fiction. An appealing work that will inspire a love of nature in young readers.
— School Library Journal – Nancy Call (September 2002)
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. Saguaro Moon: A Desert Journal is highly informative, with a creative format. The book describes the Sonoran Desert as if it were a series of journal entries by a young writer. These are interspersed with factual sidebars and colorful illustrations. The book looks at everything from the 250 species of butterflies in the Sonoran Desert to bighorn sheep and spotted bats. The book is fun to read – the natural history easily accessible. Its collage style is best for readers 6-12. . . Both of these books bring the desert alive for young readers in a creative way.
— New Mexico Magazine – Miriam Sagan (June 2004)
Part of the Sharing Nature with Children series, this volume explores desert ecology through the journals and paintings of a fictitious narrator, Megan. Each double-page spread features a full-page watercolor painting of desert plants and animals. The paintings are framed with borders of related plants or animals (i.e. Costa’s Hummingbird is framed by desert birds). The facing pages are dotted with Megan’s journal entries, as well as bits of magazine and newspaper articles, and fact boxes highlighting the animal or plant under discussion. Attractive and engaging, this picture book delivers accurate information designed to inspire young readers to follow Pratt-Serafini’s example: to “follow their dreams” – especially when it comes to journaling about nature. A bibliography and web site list are provided, as well as an invitation to join the author’s online club, Planet Scouts.
— 2003 PSLA Young Adult Top Forty List Review – Jennie Pittman
Designed to look like the journal/scrapbook of a young girl recounting her adventures and discoveries in the Sonoran Desert, this book is packed with information about the flora and fauna of the desert environment. Pratt-Serafini presents the information in a variety of short, easy-to-grasp snippets, including “journal entries,” articles from the “Planet Scouts” newsletter, nature notes, season notes, essays and poems. Detailed, vibrant watercolors bring the text to life, with the animals and plants beautifully rendered in the deep, saturated colors of a desert sunset. A gila monster crawling across red rocks, its scales spotted and dappled like a mosaic, is particularly striking. The book is well organized, moving from a general overview of the desert to a first encounter with a giant saguaro cactus through successive groupings of plants and animals. And although there are many different blocks of information and numerous typefaces used on each page, the layouts are clean and easy to follow. Careful readers will also find subtle humor: the “author” of an article on tarantulas is named “Eric Neds” and a specialist on butterflies is named “Anne Tenna.” This is a fun, lively book that should excite children into wanting to learn more about the desert. A variety of sources of additional information, both in print and on the Internet, are provided at the back of the book.
— Children’s Literature – Barbara Carroll Roberts (2003)
(three stars – highest rating)
A unique look at the desert. This book, written as a journal of the author’s discoveries in the desert, is great for children 6-12 and does not offer the typical reading that most books offer for this age group. This book offers factoids splattered throughout, journal notes, illustrations, maps – you name it … all in a unique layout which makes it an interesting and fun journey through the pages. There is so much to learn from this book that children studying the desert will find this both helpful and enjoyable.
You will discover plants and animals, as well as many facts about their habitat and curious life cycles. You will discover things like “there are no such things as a fat coyote, because of their unsure eating habits … they eat everything from meat to berries and howl for fun and communication.” … This is only one small example of what I discovered reading this book and found it to be a very inviting book that I feel every child from 6-12 will be sure to enjoy.
This book will also offer a child insight into how they may begin their our nature journal. These are a great asset in their science and nature studies and children enjoy not only writing in journals but reflecting back in them once they have completed them and moved on to other projects. This is a great book to add to your collection. Great as an additive for any homeschool setting.
— Education Clearinghouse – www.educationclearinghouse.org (December 2002)
The Sonoran Desert beckons a young naturalist in this exuberant nature journal. Engaging illustrations, journal notes, clips from articles and fun tidbits of information give a youthful flair to the desert’s unique flora and fauna, and its native people. An enjoyable way for kids to connect with nature!
— Robert Edison – Acting Director, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Megan soon meets a new friend named Mitchell. His family is part of the Tohono O’odham, a group of Native Americans who have lived in the Sonoran for several hundred years. Mitchell introduces Megan and readers to the land of the Sonoran, the plant and animal life of the Sonoran, as well as given a sneak peak into the culture and beliefs of the O’odham people.
Through these two explorers we learn where Saguaro fruit comes from, about the spadefoot, which is an animal that resembles a frog but sounds like a sheep, and we learn how to properly care for a pet scorpion! We learn about butterfly storms, bats that look like chess boards and the difference between a jackrabbit and a regular rabbit.
This factual information, which can sometimes appear dry in some non-fiction books, is explained to readers from the viewpoint of a child in a fun, adventurous way!
The back of the book contains a wonderful list of selected follow-up reading, helpful websites and information on becoming a Planet Scout.
This book is a social studies, science and geography lesson all rolled into one! It also reinforces creative writing skills by encouraging the use of a journal. The book is a fun-filled educational trip through the Sonoran Desert!
— The Kaboose Network (kidsdomain.com) – Kimberly M. Hutmacher (October 2004)
Saguaro Moon is a great educational book about the Saguaro desert, telling of all its sights and wonders from a little girl’s perspective. She explains everything as she writes in her journal. She explains plants, animals, birds and even the lifestyle of the people who live there.
Inside this book of wonders are beautiful and very colorful illustrations. Each page features a page of the girl’s journal as well as many facts about the plant or animal that she writes about. If you are someone who is interested animals and nature, you will probably like this book. I did! I especially like the page that talks about scorpions and the one about snakes and cactuses.
— Alaska Wellness – Kayla Caraway, age 10 (July/August 2007)