________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 30 . . . . April 10, 2015


Lost in the Desert of Dread. (Lost: Can You Survive?).

Tracey Turner.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2014.
128 pp., pbk. & hc., $11.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (RLB.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-0733-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-0725-7 (RLB.).

Subject Headings:
Plot-your-own stories.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Amber Allen.

**** /4


There is no one to be seen. The sun beats down relentlessly. You are completely lost and, as far as you can tell, totally alone. You know you need to find help. But where?

You set off with nothing but the clothes on your back and your backpack, which contains a few useful things that might help you in your journey.

How will you survive?


Lost in the Desert of Dread, one of four books in a new series by Tracey Turner, strands the reader in the middle of the Sahara desert alone and only somewhat prepared. After a large sandstorm, you, the reader, wake up in the desert without your camel tour group and are forced to make choices to ensure your survival. Through several twists and turns, and depending on your knowledge and decision making skills, you’re taken through the day and night in a landscape with too many predators and not enough water. Each time you read this story, it turns out a little differently, and so there isn’t just one plot to report. If you pick up this book, get ready to spend an afternoon lost in the sand.

     Turner strikes the perfect balance between fact and fiction, creating a collection of adventures that are at once entertaining and informative. The ‘choose your own adventure’ style of the book is what makes it successful as it allows the reader to become more invested in the story than a traditional nonfiction text. Engagement with this book is inevitable. The fast paced vignettes constantly demand that you make quick decisions based on logic and emotions while the 35 information pages scattered throughout the book delve deeper into the climate, flora, and fauna of the Sahara Desert without bogging down the fictional adventure. Children will quickly learn why the choice to push forward past that seemingly innocuous snake was the wrong choice. Then, they can go back to the beginning and try to circumvent some other deadly desert obstacle.

     The black and white illustrations focus on simplicity and pragmatism. As this book is targeted towards an older crowd, the images aren’t meant to share the spotlight with the text, but they still play an important role. It is helpful to see a drawing of the solpugids that almost bit you or the Barbary sheep that were actually a sign that danger was near because these are novel things found in the Sahara. Pick this title up for the middle grade reader who likes his or her adventures served with a nice dose of realism.

Highly Recommended.

Amber Allen is a librarian in Toronto, ON, with a passion for children’s literature and writing.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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