Standing tall above the tree line, Sequoia stretches his ancient arms and gathers clouds to him. He watches as days, seasons, years pass by. His branches are home to owls and choirs of frogs. Beneath his broad canopy, a world grows.
This is his story. Through controlled verse and luscious illustration, Tony Johnston and Wendell Minor do justice to the enormous figure of the sequoia tree. A Neal Porter Book
Johnston's (The Cat with Seven Names) homage to the giant sequoias of California opens at dawn, as one of these towering trees "watches the/ clearing/ quietly/ fill with/ deer. He watches the/ sky/ burn blue at/ the rim." Spare verse describes the tree as "he" experiences the seasons in turn: the sounds of spring, summer forest fires and thunderstorms, the waning light and migrations of fall, and a winter snowfall at sunset. "He throws wide/ his ancient/ arms/ with joy/ and gathers/ snow to him." Minor's (Edward Hopper Paints His World) softly-edged gouache watercolors provide panoramic views of and from the sentinel sequoia. In several scenes, readers glimpse inside the tree's tallest branches as an owl takes flight or a woodpecker works away at the bark. Shifting perspectives, from high atop the tree's canopy to animal dens beneath the forest floor, maintain visual interest. This stirring tribute portrays the millennia-old tree as a serene observer and wise caretaker of its surroundings. Endnotes offer factual information on the giant sequoia, comparing it to the taller yet younger coast redwood. Ages 3 6.