This is the fifth picture book illustrated by Wendell Minor that I have reviewed! It has just recently been published and I thought it would be a great follow-on from last week’s review on A GRAND OLD TREE. It is, after all, a season when the northern hemisphere is particularly aware of the trees!
Written by: Tony Johnston
Illustrated by: Wendell Minor
Published by: A Neal Porter book, Roaring Brook Press, 2014
Themes/Topics: trees, giant sequoia
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Poetry, 40 pages.
Mornings he stands with a thin shawl of sun upon his shoulders.
This book is in beautiful, sensory verse. The Sequoia (redwood) stretches high above the skyline in this story, as in reality. His branches create a home and canopy for many creatures, like fauns and frogs. His story is one of seasons, life & death, the vagaries of nature, the interwoven-ness of life. Both the text and lush illustrations are an ode to the size, endurance and life-giving nature of this grand tree.
With the illustrator’s permission, I want to give you a sneak-preview of a couple of the inner spreads.
Why I like This Book:
I have stood amongst the Californian Redwoods in awe! Sequoia sempervirensis is the sole living species of the genus Sequoia, in the cypress family. While I am allergic to cyprus trees, I adore these giants. It is an evergreen tree living 1,200–1,800 years or more. This species includes the tallest living trees on Earth, reaching up to 379 feet (115.5 m) in height (without the roots) and up to 26 feet (7.9 m) in diameter at breast height. These trees are also among the oldest living things on Earth.
It is an epic tree and yet the verse Tony Johnston uses is not epic, but spare, tall and melodic. The poetic text, coupled with Wendell Minor’s rich, majestic illustrations in this book do justice to the awesome stature and nature of the sequoia tree, and the ecosystem around it. It is a book to be read aloud, slowly, and looked at, carefully. It sings a song to the sequoia.
I would use this for poetry classes and units on trees, California, pre-history and the life cycle!
A double-paged spread gives some notes on Sequoias and a bibliography for further research.
The book contains an author’s note about the Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.