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The Sonoran Desert

Book cover: The Hummingbird of El Conquistador

One day a black-chinned hummingbird selected a branch outside the El Conquistador Resort’s gift shop window to build her nest. By choosing that location, she invited the staff and guests into her world. Join in the exciting adventures of this amazing hummingbird.

Reading Level:
Ages 8+


book cover for Squirrels of the Sonoran Desert

Despite their different appearances, all the squirrels native to the Sonoran Desert are ground squirrels! Burrow into this book to learn about their shared and unique features. 

Reading Level:
Ages 5+

 If your little ones are curious about those borrowing, furry squirrels in your backyard or at your favorite park, Squirrels of the Sonoran Desert
is a great introduction. It’s full of insightful information and wonderful illustrations by Anderson Atlas.
Even if younger children don’t remember all of the scientific knowledge contained in this book, it’s important to start imprinting their brains with positive, educational, and interesting information about the world around them.




Squirrels of the Sonoran Desert
By Elaine A. Powers
Illustrated by Anderson Atlas

Elaine Powers, a former laboratory biologist, is living her retirement dream writing science-based picture books for children. Tortoises, rattlesnakes, and even the Night-blooming Cereus have all been grist for her mill. With this latest offering, inspired by a suggestion from volunteer naturalists at Sabino Canyon, Powers takes on the challenge of explaining, in rhyme, the ground squirrel. There are three species of ground squirrels who call the Sonoran Desert home, and Powers tells us all about them, from their physical descriptions and habitat to their role in the desert ecosystem. Lively, often humorous, and sometimes downright startling illustrations by Anderson Atlas accompany the text. When the Peoria, Illinois transplant to Oro Valley takes a break from writing books for kids, Powers can be found penning murder mysteries. Ages 5 and up.

– Helene Woodhams is retired from Pima County Public Library, where she was literary arts librarian and coordinator of Southwest Books of the Year, the library’s annual literature review.

book cover for the Night-Blooming Cereus

Want to Dazzle the World?
Bloom All Together 
One Night Per Year!



~For All Ages~
Packed with Scientific Information

20 Pages with
Glossary & Coloring Page

Written in Rhyme!

Colorful illustrations of the
Striking Night-Blooming Cereus,
the Sonoran Desert and its Animals
by Nicholas Thorpe



Queen of the Night:
The Night-Blooming Cereus

by Elaine A. Powers
Illustrated by Nicholas Thorpe 

A perk of Sonoran-desert living is the one-night-only appearance of the Night-Blooming Cereus, a much-anticipated summer event for Tucsonans who rely on predictions from experts to know precisely when the tiny window of opportunity will open on the floral extravaganza. How in the world do the experts know? And what causes a cactus to behave this way?

With this picture book, Elaine Powers demystifies the mysterious bloom, explaining – in rhyming couplets no less – the life cycle of the plant, how to predict its flowering (when the buds reach 170-230 millimeters, stand back!), why they all flower simultaneously, and other bits of botanical lore about this intriguing plant, which spends most of the year looking like an undistinguished stick. Written for children, Powers’ book will charm and edify cactus lovers of any age. Lush illustrations by Nicholas Thorpe are a splendid accompaniment: Look for his very stern javelina on page 12 – he’s delightful.

A former laboratory biologist, Powers, who makes her home in Tucson, now writes science-based children’s books.

– Helene Woodhams is retired from Pima County Public Library, where she was literary arts librarian and coordinator of Southwest Books of the Year, the library’s annual literature review.

illustration of a desert roadrunner

A Fun Favorite of Young
and Old Alike!

For Learners Grades K-4
Reading Level
Age 8+

Colorfully Illustrated
by Nicholas Thorpe

Written in Rhyme

20 Pages


Tales abound about the speed, strength and courage of Roadrunner. They are fascinating and welcomed visitors throughout Southern Arizona. 

Ever wondered why this bird doesn’t fly? Read this book and you’ll find out why. Learn how the males woo a mate and warm the nest, and about the footprint they leave that cannot be tracked–and much more!

A Review of Don’t Make Me Fly! By Helene Woodhams
Arizona Daily Star:
What a curious creature the Roadrunner is! This iconic desert bird prefers hoofing it to flying, and its footprints are the same backward as they are forward. With vibrant illustrations by Nicholas Thorpe, this picture book is jam-packed with scientific facts about roadrunners, delivered in verse form to keep the narrative lively. Roadrunners
“grab their victim
behind its head
And bash it on
the ground until it’s dead.” Want to know how to swallow a horned lizard? Keep reading! Don’t Make Me Fly! is recommended for children in grades K-4.

This young lady is enjoying the science-based book–so much so, that her Mom emailed a picture to me.

book cover graphic of rattlesnake

There’s Much More to Me
Than You Know!
I Am Shy and My
Rattle is Only a Warning:
Please, Stay Away!

For All Ages
Reading Level 8+

Bold and Vibrant Illustrations
by Nicholas Thorpe

Written in Rhyme
40 pages


Learn all about the rattlesnake’s place in our ecosystem. Learn why we should respect them, not fear them.

See why they flick their tongues, learn why they are called pit vipers, the purpose of the venom, and much, much more in this in-depth look at rattlesnakes.

A Review of Don’t Make Me Rattle! By Helene Woodhams
Arizona Daily Star:
“A rattle from a reptile is not a welcome sound, but if it makes you tread carefully, it’s served its purpose, says Tucson author Elaine A. Powers. In a picture book chock-full of rattlesnake facts, she emphasizes the good they do (eating rodents, scattering seeds, and aiding cancer research), as she imparts interesting reptilian lore. For instance, although toxic to those on the receiving end, venom acts like saliva for a rattlesnake, a necessary digestive aid since they lack teeth for chewing. And rattlers are surprisingly social creatures who bunk together when it’s cold–forming a ‘rhumba’ of rattlers. An unabashed rattlesnake fan, Powers bemoans how willingly we exterminate them, largely because they look so unlovable. She gets no argument there from illustrator Nicholas Thorpe, whose threatening rattlesnake pictures, some with mouths agape and dripping venom, are undeniably scary. The third in the “Don’t” series is for kids in grades K-4.”

A Humorous Tale Introducing the Plants
and Animals of the Sonoran Desert

“I’ll have a long-term memory of this visit.
Maybe a permanent one.”

For All Ages
Reading Level Age 8+

26 pages
Glossary of Minerals, Flora and Fauna

Illustrated by Anderson Atlas

A bumbling visitor to Southern Arizona is repeatedly injured when trying to photograph a mischievous hummingbird, as the Sonoran Desert conspires against him. 

Have a laugh while enjoying learning about the plants and animals of Southern Arizona.