The giant sequoia tree is a natural wonder inspiring awe with its immensity and grandeur.
Cooke explores the sequoia’s life cycle from a tiny seed through its amazing growth and longevity to its eventual collapse, when it releases seeds for a new beginning. Fires clear undergrowth and allow the seeds to scatter. When no fires occur, insects perform the same functions. Sequoias can eventually fall victim to their own size, collapsing and decomposing. These facts are made accessible via concrete comparisons that engage young readers’ imaginations. The sequoia’s height is equal to “three blue whales stacked chin to tail,” and it is “as heavy as three hundred elephants.” As narrator, Cooke speaks with earnestness and clarity while employing language and syntax that are poetic and filled with obvious love of these giants. Hsieh’s double-page–spread illustrations, done in gorgeous tones of browns, yellows, and greens, add a dreamlike element. The sequoia itself is depicted with careful accuracy and, like the properties of its colorful bark, always seems to glow in sunlight, firelight, or moonlight. Wildlife has its place in the forest habitat, with deer, birds, squirrels, and more appearing in their natural activities. Several humans also appear—a diverse group of children, including one who uses a wheelchair, along with an older woman figure—all tiny at the base of the tree as they admire it in wonder.
Informative and breathtakingly beautiful. (afterword) (Informational picture book. 5-9)