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Available March 5th
Preorder Now!


Written by Lori Alexander

Illustrated by Jenn Ely

Calkins Creek

An Imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers

ISBN-10: 166268021X

ISBN-13: 978-1662680212

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.


"...depict(s) both Hoyt’s plucky spirit and the majesty of the high desert landscape."

—Horn Book Magazine

"A rousing tale about the rescuer of California’s famed desert."

—Kirkus; read full review HERE

"American activist Minerva Hoyt shines in this motivating account of her efforts to get the Mojave Desert recognized as a national park."

—Publishers Weekly; read full review HERE


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