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Song of Six Rivers
By Zev Levinson
Song of Six Rivers is a long, reflective poem in which author Zev Levinson recounts the bittersweet history of Northern California as he faces his grief over the loss of his mentor and fellow teacher Guy Kuttner, as well as that of his own father decades before.
Accompanied by haunting historic images, Levinson’s words weave through decades in California’s most serene and striking landscapes. He acknowledges what the Native American Yurok, Karuk, Hupa, Sinkyone, and Wiyot tribes have mourned, and reminisces about days with his family of writers, including Kuttner, at their Lost Coast Writers Retreat.
“We sip the wisdom of John Muir
As generations of authors write
These trees limned by his fractious voice,
These trees with crowns beyond our sight.
Sequoia sempervirens tower
Along our rocky, shifting coast.”
Naming all three species of redwoods, the poem paints the nostalgia of the magnificent forest, the serpentine rivers, the craggy coastline overlooking the vast Pacific and the people who not only live among the splendor, but also make the watersheds and the sleepy towns as special as they are. In these places, enveloped in joy, sadness, and humble reverence, Levinson is able to let go of his trauma and find peace with the path that he’s on.
This piece is a heartbreakingly beautiful tribute to two important men, but deep in the heart of it, it’s also a sorrowful love letter to redwoods country and the people who call it home.
Humboldt State University Press
2018, 89 pages.
Stretch to the Sun: from a Tiny Sprout to the Tallest Tree on Earth
By Carrie A. Pearson with illustrations by Susan Swan
Stretch to the Sun: From a Tiny Sprout to the Tallest Tree on Earth by Carrie A. Pearson is an essential read for young naturalists. It illuminates the coast redwood forest through the seasons, and tells the story of a real redwood that has grown to be the tallest tree on Earth, at 380 feet.
Pearson’s words and Susan Swan’s stylistic illustrations show the richness of the forest canopy and understory, painting a rugged and vibrant world of black bears and northern flying squirrels, spotted owls and marbled murrelets, and huckleberry bushes and ferns. The book covers a wide range of topics, from the coast redwood’s fire-resistant bark, to the logging era, to the protection of the last remaining redwood forests.
The end of the book features coast redwood facts, which expand on the narrative in the first half. This makes the book enjoyable for various ages. Most children can grasp the brief story. Older, more inquisitive youths can have many of their inevitable questions answered about the science and history of redwood forests. Even grown-ups without previous knowledge of the trees will learn the basics.
The founding of Save the Redwoods League in 1918 is included as an important moment for Sequoia sempervirens. Stretch to the Sun will hopefully inspire a new generation of scientists, conservationists, and adventurers to see the redwoods and protect them for all time.
2018, 32 pages.
$16.99, ages 5-8