Sequoia – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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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!

seqTitle: Sequoia

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.

Sometimes he smells fire. He spreads his ancient arms and gathers flames to him.

Sometimes he smells fire. He spreads his ancient arms and gathers flames to him.



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.

National Geographic video of a Sequoia in a Snowstorm

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.

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11 Responses to Sequoia – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Oh, this is lovely. We’ve been among the Redwoods. They are breathtaking (like the images in this book). Sequuoias used to be common in Colorado. We visited a national site with fossilized tree stumps. It was a surprise to me.

  2. rhythm says:

    What a stunning book! I’ll have to look for this one! Thanks!

  3. I just picked up EDWARD HOPPER PAINTS HIS WORLD (by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Wendell Minor). His art is incredible and SEQUOIA is next on my list. Thanks for these reviews!

  4. I love Tony’s books. She is so amazing and versatile. Thanks for the review. Someday, I’m going to stand among the sequoias too.

  5. Oh, this really is a beautiful book! I visited the Sequoias twice as a teen. Not as many kids today have the opportunity to see some of the wonders in nature. They are so gorgeous and magnificent. I can only imagine how stunning the illustrations are in this book.

  6. Wow! Must have a look at this one!

  7. The fire illustration made me gasp! What powerful art. This book sounds glorious. Thank you for telling us about it, Joanna, and I’m so grateful you were able to share some of the illustrations with us. Wow.

  8. Darn, I had typed a long comment but got an error message that my Captcha code was wrong and it won’t let me recover the comment, so…I’ll just say that I have borrowed this book and can’t wait to read it.

  9. What a beautiful book, Joanna, and a perfect follow up to last week’s 🙂 I too am a huge Sequoia fan. I went to California every summer as a child to visit my grandparents, and have been to the redwood forest many times. The trees are so majestic and awe-inspiring. I remember one you could drive a car through, the trunk was so massive. Thanks for sharing this gorgeous book!

  10. Joanne Sher says:

    The illustrations are GORGEOUS – and so are the sequoias. Will have to check this one out. Thanks, Joanna!

  11. What a gorgeous book, Joanna! I, too, have visited the Sequoias in Yosemite, and found a similar book about the historical events that went on during the tree’s lifespan. I need to look this one up.

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