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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Catalina is a very impatient young cactus. Catalina, born prickly like all the other cacti around it, desperately wants to have arms, to look elegant, to be able to touch. But, as a prickly saguaro, Catalina grows very slowly and sharply pricks anyone who gets too close. When a young girl visiting with her father accidentally touches Catalina, the girl is pricked and cries. Catalina, with hurt feelings, is embarrassed and sad. Years go by and still no arms, but the little girl, now a grown woman, returns and sets Catalina at ease by apologizing for touching the cactus. It wasn’t Catalina’s fault after all.
Diane K. Quimby’s picture book story, A Touch of Cactus: Inspired by the Legends of Southwestern Tribes, tells the story of one cactus and, in so doing, teaches young readers about the long lives of the saguaro cactus. Not only does the story teach young readers about the natural beauty and perseverance of cacti, but it also teaches them about patience and endurance, as Catalina must be very patient while waiting to grow arms. This is a touching story about one cactus and one little girl who shows interest and respect for the natural world and the cacti of the deserts of Arizona. The story also enforces the importance of social distancing (something we all have to learn in the current pandemic situation) and how we must respect our environment with a 'look, don’t touch' approach. So many interesting cacti facts are shared and at the end of the book is an exercise for young readers: instructions on how to build a diorama to create their own Sonoran Desert landscape. Beautifully illustrated.