What is the name of the desert that Stargirl goes to in Jerry Spinelli's novel Stargirl?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In the opening chapter of Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl, we learn that the protagonist and narrator Leo Borlock lives in Mica, Arizona. Leo, as the narrator, uses many similes connected to the desert since the desert is such a significant region of Arizona. For example, in chapter 2, lying awake and reflecting on who Stargirl is, Leo also thinks about his own understanding of moonlight. He likes to think of nighttime as not "the opposite of day, but its underside, its private side" and to think of moonlight purring on his "snow-white sheet like some dark cat come in from the desert" (p. 12). By the time Leo decides to follow Stargirl after school, we learn that one of her peculiarities is visiting the desert at sunset.

By chapter 9, Leo refers to the Sonoran Desert, which is a desert that covers portions of Arizona, California, Baja California, and Sonora Northwestern Mexico. Leo uses an extended metaphor of dormant frogs in the ponds of the Sonoran desert to refer to his fellow students. He describes that most people will not know that the Sonoran Desert is covered with ponds that are "usually dry." Beneath the sands of the ponds, mud frogs hibernate until "the rains come"; then, a "hundred pairs of eyes pop out of the mud, and at night a hundred voices call across the moonlit water" (p. 87). In his mind, ever since Stargirl has awakened the students of their campus with her unique individuality, he feels that the students are like the dormant mud frogs. They had been asleep but are now awake, looking at each other, interacting with each other, celebrating each other's successes, and feeling each other's pain.

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