The Sonoran Desert in the Southwestern U.S. is home to the majestic saguaro cactus, which has the unique property of only flowering once a year.
This book explores the creatures and plants that make up the unique desert ecosystem that is supported by this extraordinary plant. Hawthorne’s clean, elegant watercolor illustrations depict in striking detail a variety of flora and fauna, including the grasshopper mouse, which can stand on its hind legs and howl; the Gila woodpecker, which nests inside the cactus; a variety of insects; and the lesser long-nosed bat. The illustrations effectively convey the drama of the big-sky terrain and anticipation of the night flowering. “The desert wakes up as the temperature cools. / Animals search for the precious first bloom.” The process is described in aabb quatrains, which, although of uneven quality and sometimes loosely rhymed, help to direct readers’ eyes to what is happening on the spreads. More information about some of the creatures is shown in a closing spread along with an illustrated description of the life cycle of the saguaro.
A lightly done but compelling explanation of symbiosis among environment, animals, and plants that will appeal to science and visual arts enthusiasts alike. (Informational picture book. 6-10)