Desert Extremes.


32 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-7787-4517-4
DDC j577.54




Reviewed by Sandy Campbell

Sandy Campbell is a reference librarian in the Science and Technology Library at the University of Alberta.


Crabtree Press has come up with yet another variant on the habitats or biomes theme. This series, aimed at upper elementary schoolchildren, follows the successful Crabtree formula. The books are fact-filled and brightly coloured, illustrated with excellent drawings and stock photography. Each book has two pages of “Extreme Facts” about the environment being described. For example, the mountain book tells us that Mount Everest grows 0.16 inches per year and that both Tibetan and high-Andes people have circulatory adaptations: high-Andes people have more hemoglobin in their blood, and Tibetans have larger blood vessels.


Each of the books is worldwide in focus, and all seem to studiously avoid Canadian references. For example, the Rain Forest Extremes is an excellent overview of tropical rainforests, but makes no mention of temperate rainforests, such as those along the British Columbia Coast. Much of the Arctic lies within Canada, but there are only two passing references to things Canadian in Frozen Extremes.


While these books appear to be well researched and generally accurate, there are, occasionally, questionable “facts.” For example, Frozen Extremes claims that Nuuk, Greenland, is the northernmost capital city at 64° 10’N. However both Archangelsk, the capital of the Arkhangelsk Oblast, and Naryan-Mar, the capital city of the Nenetsky Autonomous Okrug in Russia, lie north of 65° N.


The series does highlight the most extreme characteristic of each environment. Deep Sea Extremes is filled with photographs of the strangest looking sea creatures. The desert book describes Australian Aborigines eating toasted insects and people of the Kalahari using arrows tipped with poison from a beetle grub. These extremes have enough “gross” factor to engage most elementary students.


Deep Space Extremes is a little different from the others. Each of the other books follows a pattern of looking at the plant and animal life of the particular environment, then human life, and then extreme facts. While the deep space book contains a speculative section on alien life, the book is about human travel into the extreme environment of space.


Several earlier Crabtree series have covered different habitats or biomes, so libraries holding those may not need to buy these. However, for school and public libraries with budgets large enough to accommodate content duplication, these books are recommended.


Hyde, Natalie., “Desert Extremes.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,