cover image Sequoia


Tony Johnston, illus. by Wendell Minor. Roaring Brook/Porter, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-59643-727-2

Johnston’s (The Cat with Seven Names) homage to the giant sequoias of California opens at dawn, as one of these towering trees “watches the/ clearing/ quietly/ fill with/ deer. He watches the/ sky/ burn blue at/ the rim.” Spare verse describes the tree as “he” experiences the seasons in turn: the sounds of spring, summer forest fires and thunderstorms, the waning light and migrations of fall, and a winter snowfall at sunset. “He throws wide/ his ancient/ arms/ with joy/ and gathers/ snow to him.” Minor’s (Edward Hopper Paints His World) softly-edged gouache watercolors provide panoramic views of and from the sentinel sequoia. In several scenes, readers glimpse inside the tree’s tallest branches as an owl takes flight or a woodpecker works away at the bark. Shifting perspectives, from high atop the tree’s canopy to animal dens beneath the forest floor, maintain visual interest. This stirring tribute portrays the millennia-old tree as a serene observer and wise caretaker of its surroundings. Endnotes offer factual information on the giant sequoia, comparing it to the taller yet younger coast redwood. Ages 3–6. (Sept.)