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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Further Along the Desert Path: The Come Walk with Me Series, Volume 2 is a children’s educational adventure novel written by Shirley Williams and illustrated by Connor Furr. The desert was abuzz with excitement over The Wet which would arrive any day now. The summer heat was blazing, and there was a pall of dust over the plants and the desert. Soon, the rains would come, and with them, the lightning and thunder and the rainbows. Aundi wondered at the spectacular displays she’d be seeing, even as she worried just a bit when she learned about the flash floods that often occurred after a monsoon storm. She had even more things to be excited about, however; her ninth birthday was approaching. Aundi had been carefully marking the oh-so-slow progression from 8 to 8¼ to 8½ and now, that long-awaited event was only a few days away. When she looked on the calendar, she noticed that her birthday fell on the Summer Solstice and on the full moon! This had to mean something very special. Nana was also coming to help her celebrate, which would mean they’d go on their special walks and visit with Jylly, the fairy. All the beings who lived in the desert were sharing in Aundi’s excitement. She was one of those rare people who could communicate with them, and they loved the “little girl who could see in all worlds.”
Shirley Williams’ educational adventure book for children, Further Along the Desert Path: The Come Walk with Me Series, Volume 2, follows her remarkable first book in the series, Stories from The Desert Path. I loved that first book and wondered how Williams could top it, but she did and marvelously. Nature and fantasy conspire together to bring the desert to life and to share its glories with the reader. Along with Aundi, we learn about the roadrunner, javelinas, the desert cottontail and the summer monsoon season. Nana is on hand to give a fascinating presentation on the summer night sky and the constellations visible up there, and there’s even a visit to ancient sites in the Sonoran Desert where petroglyphs can be seen. We learn, with Aundi, about the local Indian clans and the contributions they made with their canal irrigation system and experimentation with crops. While Aundi is listening to the park ranger describe how the ancient peoples used those petroglyphs to communicate and leave messages for each other, Aundi thinks about how much more fun it is to learn like this instead of sitting in a classroom. I would have to agree.
Williams packs so much interesting information into this story without slowing down the fun one iota. She even gives kids insights into what it’s like for children whose parents are in the military. Connor Furr’s illustrations are stunning. He creates desert scenes with ink and washes that blaze with color and paint the desert in greens and earth tones. If you live in the desert, as I do, you’ll see the landscape in a whole new way after reading this book; if you don’t, you’ll most likely start pondering a move -- or at least an extended visit. Further Along the Desert Path: The Come Walk with Me Series, Volume 2 is most highly recommended.