Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, March 25, 2024

Cactus Queen: Minerva Hoyt Establishes Joshua Tree National Park Written by Lori Alexander

Cactus Queen: Minerva Hoyt Establishes Joshua Tree National Park
Written by Lori Alexander; Pictures by Jenn Ely
Calkins Creek, an Imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers. 2024

Just how Minerva Hoyt convinced a nation, and a United States President to care about the Mojave Desert, located in southeastern California and southwestern Nevada is the basis of this charming picture book biography. 

In 1897, Minerva and her husband, Dr. Albert Hoyt lived in Pasadena, California.  "When Minerva needed a break from the buzzing city, she took trips. First by horse and wagon. Later by automobile. Her favorite place was the Mojave Desert." It was like no other place she ever visited. But, as the 1920's brought more cars, roads, and lots more people to the area, the desert oasis quickly was destroyed. People took plants, dug up the Joshua trees hoping they would survive in their backyard gardens. Just how could she make people love the desert as much as she did? How could she convince them the Mojave Desert was a place that needed to be preserved, to become a national park? 

Minerva created a desert display, complete with cactus, Joshua Trees, and wildlife (she had taxidermists as friends). Seeing the strange and beautiful landscape at the 1928 International Flower Show, people feel in love. On August 10, 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a law that created the Joshua Tree National Monument. In 1994, President Bill Clinton gave the area more protection by signing the California Desert Protection Act. It expanded the area and established the Joshua Tree National Park. 

Peppered throughout in darker and a larger front are quotes from Minerva Hoyt. The book's illustrations by Jenn Ely are mostly done in acrylic gouache, with some smaller bits of colored pencil and collage. They are lively, engaging, and really colorful. 

Backmatter includes more information on Minerva Hoyt, wildlife in Joshua Tree National Park, an author's note, tips for environmental activists, and a selected bibliography.

An important story that highlights the importance of protecting our natural wonders. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Louise and Cathy, for sharing CACTUS QUEEN with your readers!