cover image This Place Is Cold

This Place Is Cold

Vicki Cobb. Walker & Company, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-6852-0

These inaugural titles of the Imagine Living Here series offer a colorful display of facts designed to pique readers' interests. In the first title, author and illustrator visit the Sonoran Desert in Arizona to show how various plants, animals and people have adapted to the heat and aridity. An explanation of how Phoenix was established offers historical facts alongside natural science. Cold shows how people and beasts survive ferocious cold, and includes discussions on the tundra and permafrost, and on how animals such as polar bears keep their wet fur from freezing. Oddly enough, there are more people depicted in this second work, although that may not indicate that one region is more populous than the other. One design element makes the work less accessible: the long, information-packed paragraphs look dense. Lavallee's buoyant watercolors are generally pleasant, but she depicts each face, desert cowboy's or Eskimo's, as half-light and half-dark. That seems like an artistic conceit, and may confuse issues of race rather than negate them. Ages 7-9. (Mar.)