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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sequoia, written by Tony Johnston, with paintings by Wendell Minor. A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2014. $19.99 ages 5 and up

he stands
with a thin
of sun upon
his shoulders.

He watches the
grove below ... "

Tony Johnston has penned an homage to the giant sequoia, and how he lives throughout the year. Each new season brings changes; from the owls of the springtime to the snow that covers his branches in winter. As each of these events happen around and on him, he listens with quiet wonder. Using his wisdom and experiences, he shares his stories with the small cedar trees that are his neighbors. Each of his senses helps him experience the many happenings in his surroundings.

"He feels
in his ringed
the earth grow
The birds
depart leaving him alone.

He opens
his ancient, brittle
and gathers
one last crow."

The structure created in the repetition of this beautiful description of the natural world will help young readers see that nature changes throughout the year, in so many ways. Ms. Johnston's imagery is matched by the exceptional gouache watercolor paintings created by Wendell Minor. They allow readers to see the beauty of the landscape, and give perspective to the height of the sequoia. I love the diffused light that bounces off the water, the tree trunks, the animals from dawn until dusk. The changing perspectives add context  and will hold interest as the book is shared. Be sure to take a careful look at the endpapers ... they have their own story to tell.

Endnotes add information and a plea to help protect these beautiful giants.

 Impressive and memorable!

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