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Parks for everyone


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Mar 22, 2024
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Cactus Queen: Minerva Hoy Establishes Joshua Tree National Park by Lori Alexander, illustrated by Jenn Ely (Calkins Creek, 40 pages, grades 1-4). Minerva Hoyt grew up in Mississippi, where she loved to play outside and was not afraid to speak her mind. She grew up, got married, and moved to Pasadena, California with her husband. When Minerva needed a break from the city, her favorite place to visit was the Mojave Desert.

Over the years, Minerva watched as people from Los Angeles slowly stripped the Mojave of its cacti, yucca, and Joshua trees to transplant (usually unsuccessfully) to their gardens. To try to preserve this ecosystem, Minerva did something similar, but for a different purpose–she gathered plants from the desert and created an exhibit at the 1928 International Flower Show to raise awareness. Later, she worked to turn some of the Mojave into a national park. There was quite a bit of resistance to this idea from those who thought the desert was a barren wasteland, but Minerva never gave up. In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the law that created Joshua Tree National Monument. Almost 50 years after Minerva’s death in 1945, President Bill Clinton established Joshua Tree National Park. There’s more information about Minerva, Joshua Tree, and national parks, as well as environmental tips and a bibliography in the back.

Tasha’s Voice by Carmen Bogan, illustrated by Floyd Cooper and Daria Peoples (Yosemite Conservancy, 38 pages, grades K-3). In this companion to Carmen Bogan’s Where’s Rodney? a young girl has a transformative experience in nature, just as Rodney does in his story. Tasha is a new girl in Rodney’s class, so shy that she can’t speak when the teacher calls on her or talk to the other kids in the class. When the class takes a field trip to the park, a ranger shows them around, then lets them explore on their own. An encounter with a small turtle helps Tasha to make two new friends and to finally find her own voice.

Be sure to read the last two pages, which include an interview with Daria Peoples who completed the artwork after Floyd Cooper passed away in 2021. There’s also a brief note about parks that includes websites for Outdoor-Afro and Latino Outdoors.

Enjoy these two books for the last part of Women’s History Month! (Although Tasha’s Voice won’t be out until April). They are a celebration of national parks, the healing power of nature, and making outdoor experiences available to groups, like women and people of color, who may not have always felt welcome there.
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