By: Kurt Cyrus
Illustrated by: Andy Atkins
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: August 2021
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: September 2021
From author Kurt Cyrus and illustrator Andy Atkins comes the story of a very giving saguaro cactus in Saguaro’s Gifts. The story opens as the saguaro cactus is celebrating a momentous occasion, its 100th birthday.
Throughout the story, the reader sees various creatures come visit the cactus, including a bat, an owl, a hummingbird, butterflies, doves, bees, a coyote, a rabbit, a tortoise, finches, a porcupine, a bobcat, javelina, and a lizard. As these creatures visit the saguaro cactus, the cactus provides something for each of them. The bat always finds the sweetest nectar at the cactus, while the owl makes his home inside the cactus. The butterflies, doves, and bees enjoy tasting the cactus’s sweet nectar, while the rabbit uses the cactus as a hiding spot to escape hungry coyotes. The old, slow tortoise visits the cactus to gobble up any fruit that it may have dropped. The finches build their nests in the cactus and the bobcat climbs up the cactus to escape a herd of javelina. In return for all that the cactus provides, the animals eat its fruit and spread the seeds, thus allowing pollination to take place. This phenomenon is all that the saguaro cactus needs.
Author Kurt Cyrus’ Saguaro’s Gifts is a beautiful story exemplifying an example of the circle of life present in our environment. As many creatures visit the cactus for their own benefit, these creatures are also helping the cactus by allowing pollination to occur. This lovely tale shows the importance of a 100-year-old cactus, and the interdependence of this plant and its visitors.
Illustrator Andy Atkins does a magnificent job making the animals come to life in this story. The desert landscape is beautifully colored and the detail in the illustrations is second to none.
At the end of the book, the author includes a “Facts About Saguaro” page, which is a nice touch. Young readers will enjoy learning about the saguaro cactus and its important role in the ecosystem of the desert.
Quill says: Saguaro’s Gifts is a charming story of how the plants and animals in the desert rely on each other to survive. Even though the saguaro cactus in this story is 100 years old, its important role in the desert landscape does not diminish with age.