The Night Flower: The Blooming of the Saguaro Cactus

illus. by Lara Hawthorne. 32p. glossary. Candlewick. Mar. 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781536206166.
K-Gr 2—Hawthorne makes her nonfiction debut with this beautifully illustrated introduction to the saguaro cactus. Covering 24 hours in the Sonoran desert, the book's pages are principally filled with depictions of the flora and fauna in the desert, while rhyming quatrains provide a lively description of the activity that can be found in the habitat. The text and renderings at the beginning of the book demonstrate the central role saguaros play in Southwestern America's diurnal wildlife: providing food, water, and shelter for the many animals Hawthorne showcases. When night finally falls, nocturnal pollinators flock to the saguaro as its magnificent flower blooms by moonlight. The text is as informative as it is lyrical; however, the real attraction here is the illustrations. The clean lines and minimalist style lend themselves particularly well to the starkness of a desert landscape, while including enough detail in the animal renderings to ensure scientific accuracy. Five pages of illustrated back matter include the parts and life cycle of a saguaro, trivia on various desert animals, and a glossary of biology and botany terms used throughout.
VERDICT With its rhyming text and stylized illustrations, this wonderful read-aloud possibility for an elementary school science unit will fascinate readers while conveying the importance of the saguaro in the desert ecosystem.

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