SEQUOIA by Tony Johnston


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 3 - 7
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A giant sequoia experiences the world around “him” in Johnston’s romantic, image-laden, anthropomorphic rendering of the life experiences of the largest tree on the planet.

This sequoia “feels,” “waits,” “counts,” “gazes,” “tells”—all verbs attributed to Sequoiadendron giganteum. The author describes large and small events that occur: Birds and beasts visit and shelter, weather changes, forest fires rage, seasons turn. It is all very poetic and expresses the author’s subjective understanding of the sequoia. Fortunately, facts about the great trees are nicely summarized in endnotes. Minor’s gouache watercolors convey the action and present a more realistic picture of the theme. He shows the tree, the changing seasons, the sky, the animals and birds that live in the tree’s branches, roots, environs. Occasionally he demands a 90-degree turn of the book, so readers can see a (relatively) tiny bear dwarfed by the towering tree. His paintings give the words life, although the animals are not identified: Is that a ground squirrel or a chipmunk? a crow or a raven? and what species is the owl flying in the moonlight? Perhaps it does not matter, since this is impressionistic free verse, lines often breaking with no apparent poetic need, rather than natural history.

Minor’s paintings are glorious; the textual conceit is a little overdone. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-59643-727-2
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2014


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