What is drought? Parched earth, empty reservoirs, and desert-like conditions may first spring to mind, but as Droughts makes clear to young readers, this picture may be misleading. A drought means that precipitation is lower than usual for a prolonged period of time, but this can occur in any part of the world—even the Arctic or a rain forest. The book explains the causes and effects of drought in simple and accessible terms, switching between more technical explanations and what they mean for humans and their environment. Along the way, the reader learns about the water cycle, how it can change with time, and why it is important for individuals and farmers to save water where possible.
My 7-year-old son particularly liked the simple experiments that illustrate how much water is liquid freshwater relative to frozen and ocean water and how clouds form. Pictures of children in drought-affected environments helped him to relate to the subject matter.
I felt, however, that leaving out any mention of climate change and its effects on precipitation, and hence droughts, was an unfortunate omission; scientific evidence for increased drought risk under climate change is strong, and I felt it was a missed opportunity to convey this important message to young readers.