Cactus Queen: Minerva Hoyt Establishes Joshua Tree National Park (Hardcover)

Cactus Queen: Minerva Hoyt Establishes Joshua Tree National Park By Lori Alexander, Jenn Ely (Illustrator) Cover Image

Cactus Queen: Minerva Hoyt Establishes Joshua Tree National Park (Hardcover)

By Lori Alexander, Jenn Ely (Illustrator)


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How did the Joshua Tree National Park in California come to be? Meet Minerva Hamilton Hoyt, an artist, activist, and environmentalist, whose determination saved the desert and helped to create the park, in this STEAM picture book.

Long before she became known as the Cactus Queen, Minerva Hamilton Hoyt found solace in the unexpected beauty of the Mojave Desert in California. She loved the jackrabbits and coyotes, the prickly cacti, and especially the weird, spiky Joshua trees.

However, in the 1920s, hardly anyone else felt the same way. The desert was being thoughtlessly destroyed by anyone and everyone. Minerva knew she needed to bring attention to the problem. With the help of her gardening club, taxidermists, and friends, she took the desert east and put its plants and animals on display. The displays were a hit, but Minerva needed to do much more: she wanted to have the desert recognized as a national park. Although she met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and won him over, Minerva still had to persuade politicians, scientists, teachers, and others to support her cause. And, it worked! Minerva’s efforts led to what came to be known as Joshua Tree National Park in California, and saved hundreds of thousands of plants and animals. Now, the millions of people who visit each year have learned to love the desert, just as Minerva did.
Lori Alexander is the award-winning author of several children’s books, including All in a Drop: How Antony van Leeuwenhoek Discovered an Invisible World, which won a Robert F. Sibert Honor, and A Sporting Chance: How Ludwig Guttmann Created the Paralympic Games, an NCSS Notable Book. Her work has received several starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, Horn Book Magazine, has made the NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book list, and has been selected by the Junior Library Guild.

Jenn Ely is an artist and animator, who has worked on the movies The Boxtrolls and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio. In her recent foray into children’s books, she illustrated The Gardener of Alcatraz and If You Were a Kid Building a Pyramid.
Product Details ISBN: 9781662680212
ISBN-10: 166268021X
Publisher: Calkins Creek
Publication Date: March 5th, 2024
Pages: 40
Language: English
★ "Bright desert hues fill illustrations in gouache and colored pencil that perfectly complement the upbeat text which is scattered with quotes from Hoyt’s writings and speeches. This is a fascinating look into the life of a little-known environmental hero...A lively picture book biography with tie-ins to Earth Day and Women’s History Month. Highly recommended." —School Library Journal, starred review

"This picture-book biography introduces young readers to the conservation efforts of Hoyt, focusing mainly on her life after the death of her husband in 1918...Ely’s cozy gouache illustrations...depict both Hoyt’s plucky spirit and the majesty of the high desert landscape." —The Horn Book

"In this tribute to the power of gentle but persistent persuasion, Alexander chronicles the efforts of a Pasadena socialite to preserve the desert she had come to love...In Ely’s group scenes of period garden party guests and visiting students, Hoyt’s slim, smiling, neatly clad figure stands out, looking equally comfortable andconfident sharing photo albums with FDR in the Oval Office, camping out amid cacti as coyotes howl, or leaning down for a close look at a live scorpion." —Booklist

"This is an admiring, well-written portrait of a woman who worked mightily to overcome indifference and a lack of knowledge and won out to the benefit of all. Quotes from Minerva and others appear throughout. Lively, colorful illustrations, created mostly in Acryla Gouache, as well as in colored pencil and collage, capture Minerva’s enthusiasm and desert scenes teeming with life. A rousing tale about the rescuer of California’s famed desert." —Kirkus Reviews

"(An) amazing overview of Minerva (Hamilton Hoyt's)life and lasting impact... Alexander successfully presents Hoyt’s determination and readers will learn that activism does not always mean achieving your goal on the first try, but continuing on after failure. This book also emphasizes the importance of community support. A good option for those passionate about our national parks or to anchor lessons on activism."—Youth Services Book Review (5 stars!)