A small sprout grows for hundreds of years until it becomes a full-grown coast redwood.
When spring arrives in a redwood forest after a stormy winter, “POP! A tiny tree, / no bigger than a pinky finger, / sprouts from the stump of” a tree blown down in the previous spread. Calm, steady free verse details how the forest ecosystem works to nurture a redwood into maturity and includes industrial-era destruction and subsequent protection of redwood forests. (Pre-colonial interactions of Indigenous people with the trees go undepicted.) Mixed-media collages are busy and layered, conveying the density and life of a forest. Some minor inconsistencies are frustrating: In one portion of the backmatter the author notes that “the coast redwood community requests that we learn about these ancient champions from afar and allow them to grow undisturbed,” while the first bullet point in “HOW CAN YOU HELP?” is “hug a tree at a national or state park!” Readers are never given the context of the term “coast redwoods,” including that there are other redwood species. Key vocabulary such as “canopy,” “duff,” and “reiteration” are explained in the backmatter, while other terms—“debris,” “aurora borealis”—go undefined. An author’s note, additional paragraphs of explanatory text keyed to the primary narrative, selected bibliography, and further resources make up the backmatter.
An earnest seedling, this book never grows to its full potential. (Informational picture book. 4-8)