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Señor Saguaro King of the Desert - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Learning about the interconnectedness of animals and plants within an ecosystem is so much more fun when it's done in a humorously cheeky and beautifully illustrated manner. This is a wonderful exploration of the animals who rely upon, and in turn protect and propagate, the magnificent Saguaro cactus.

Señor Saguaro King of the Desert


Author: Lisa Rose


Illustrator: Emma Graham


Publisher: The Little Fig (2023)


Ages: 5-12


Informational Fiction



Themes:

Desert ecology, plant life cycle, friends, nature, botany, Saguaro Cactus, and STEM.


Synopsis:

It takes more than attitude to be KING!


Señor Saguaro has lived many years in the sol caliente with agua poco. He knows just what it takes to grow and thrive in the Sonoran Desert…or does he?


After befriending a bat, a woodpecker family, and a fruit-loving pack rat, Señor Saguaro sees his royal role in his ecosystem in a whole new way.


Opening Lines:

Señor Saguaro

startled. “Qué pasa?

Who’s waking me up

at this hora de

la noche?”


“Pardon, Señor. I want

to dine on your

fine nectar.”


“Dine? On me?

How dare you!”


What I LOVED about this book:

Seamlessly integrating Spanish throughout the text, this bilingual book does a great job of exploring the animals who benefit and assist in the life cycle of the Saguaro Cactus. Even for readers not fluent in Spanish, it is very easy to understand the meaning of the text and fun refrain.

Text © Lisa Rose, 2023. Image © Emma Graham, 2023.


I am King of the Desert!

Not even a hundred years

in the sol caliente with agua

poco could prevent me

from becoming

GRANDE!


The colorful illustrations and fun onomatopoeia help the text, written entirely in dialogue, explore a few of the animals which benefit from the flowers, trunk, and fruit of the Saguaro cactus, as well as show how these animals themselves help the cactus through pollination, pest control...

Text © Lisa Rose, 2023. Image © Emma Graham, 2023.


and propagation. Each slowly shifting in Señor Saguaro's opinion from annoyances to praised amingos. I love the irreverent pack rat 's audacity to feast on the cactus fruit, curl up with a burp, and then humorously argue the difference between desert and dessert. Kids will love Señor Saguaro's indignant inquiries and bold, almost snarky interactions with the animals. It's STEM with a playful, fun twist.


I love Emma Graham's ability to animate Señor Saguaro through various emotions from annoyance to indignation, surprise to gratitude. As he discovers the mutually beneficial, interconnected relationship (friendship) he has with these animals. His eyebrows and moustache crack me up! It's such a fun way to learn about the cactus life cycle and the desert. As well as a gentle reminder that we all, even the mighty, prickly Saguaro, need friends. A list of wonderful "Fun Facts" further explore the long - 200 year - life and special ecosystem of these precious, ancient cacti. This will be a fun addition to desert ecosystem and ecology collections.


Resources:

- try making a rock cactus garden, a pipe cleaner cactus, or one of these other cactus crafts.

- make a desert diorama. What other plants and animals live in the desert with Señor Saguaro? How about in other deserts?

- how do a bat, woodpecker, and pack rat help Señor Saguaro? How does he help them?

- check out Lisa's educator's guide.

- pair this with The Magic School Bus Gets All Dried Up: A Book About Deserts by Joanna Cole, A Desert Scrapbook: Dawn to Dusk in the Sonoran Desert by Virginia Wright-Frierson, and A Walk in the Desert by Rebecca L. Johnson.


If you missed the interview with Lisa Rose on Monday, find it (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions and resources see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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