cover image Cactus Queen: Minerva Hoyt Establishes Joshua Tree National Park

Cactus Queen: Minerva Hoyt Establishes Joshua Tree National Park

Lori Alexander, illus. by Jenn Ely. Calkins Creek, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-66268-021-2

American activist Minerva Hoyt (1866–1945) shines in this motivating account of her efforts to get the Mojave Desert recognized as a national park. Alexander moves quickly through Hoyt’s early years, emphasizing her building collegial relationships as a child in Mississippi and later as a California transplant. The “wide and wondrous” Mojave Desert becomes a beloved spot, especially after the death of Hoyt’s husband. As overzealous desert visitors strip the landscape of its iconic Joshua trees and other desert plants, the subject hatches a plan to introduce desert flora to the East Coast in the hopes that appreciation will translate into landscape protection. While initial efforts to gain national park status for the area falter, Hoyt triumphs with the help of allies. Ely’s gouache, colored pencil, and collage artwork moves nimbly between portraits of Hoyt appreciating the natural landscapes and politicking. Background characters are portrayed with various skin tones. Resources and an author’s note conclude. Ages 7–10. (Mar.)