Monday, December 8, 2014

Nonfiction Monday: Sequoia by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Wendell Minor

This isn't exactly nonfiction, but it's something I'd consider nonfiction enough for reading aloud.

Told from the point of the sequoia itself, Tony Johnston's gentle poetry takes the reader through the days, seasons and years of the tree from first morning light, from hot summers to crackling fire and quiet winter. The animals on and around the trees are mentioned and the tree's place in the ecosystem gently woven into the poetry.

Minor's lush oil paintings capture the majestic beauty of the sequoia and its surroundings. I'm in awe of how carefully he captured the sheer scale of the trees, shifting the perspective to show different aspects of the massive tree. Some of my favorite pictures are the ones that incorporate wildlife. In one, a single branch stretches against the green of the tree and the hazy green of the surrounding forest and sweeping out of it is a stunning blue jay, flying towards the glowing sun. In another, a woodpecker takes up almost the whole of the spread, only the straight trunk and swoop of branches overhead against the empty sky and an eagle in the distance give an impression of great height.

Back matter includes "Some notes on Sequoias" including a few drawings of the trees and a map of their range. There is also a brief bibliography.

Verdict: While this isn't going to be for everyone; the poetry is too slow-paced for a really good read-aloud, especially to younger kids, it would make a nice supplement to a tree storytime by reading selections and it's a truly lovely book.

ISBN: 9781596437272; Published 2014 by Roaring Brook; Review copy provided by the publisher for Cybils

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