BY HELENE WOODHAMS
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Queen of the Night: The Night-Blooming Cereus $14.95
by Elaine A. Powers
Illustrated by Nicholas Thorpe
A perk of Sonoran-desert living is the one-night-only appearance of the Night-Blooming Cereus, a much-anticipated summer event for Tucsonans who rely on predictions from experts to know precisely when the tiny window of opportunity will open on the floral extravaganza. How in the world do the experts know? And what causes a cactus to behave this way?
With this picture book, Elaine Powers demystifies the mysterious bloom, explaining – in rhyming couplets no less – the life cycle of the plant, how to predict its flowering (when the buds reach 170-230 millimeters, stand back!), why they all flower simultaneously, and other bits of botanical lore about this intriguing plant, which spends most of the year looking like an undistinguished stick. Written for children, Powers’ book will charm and edify cactus lovers of any age.
Lush illustrations by Nicholas Thorpe are a splendid accompaniment: Look for his very stern javelina on page 12 – he’s delightful.
A former laboratory biologist, Powers, who makes her home in Tucson, now writes science-based children’s books.
– Helene Woodhams is retired from Pima County Public Library, where she was literary arts librarian and coordinator of Southwest Books of the Year, the library’s annual literature review.