Ezra’s Books

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Clementina’s Cactus

Viking, 1982

While walking in the desert, tiny Clementina and her father encounter a lone cactus, all dry, shriveled and prickly. Clementina is fascinated by the little plant, but the threat of rain forces her and her dad to head home. During the night there is a terrible storm, but when the sun returns, Clementina searches for the cactus and discovers a spectacular surprise. The stunning artwork in this wordless book provides a rich field for imaginative reading.

Take a Closer Look

Clementina_stormdoorClementina’s Cactus, Ezra’s final published book, is different from all his other work. It’s completely wordless (unlike our animated read-aloud, below, which has a script written by Martin Pope). The illustrations look (deceptively) like sketches. The landscape seems otherworldly; the characters and their home are rather threadbare.

Clementina’s father, tall, thin and unkempt, is a bit mysterious, living off the grid in an isolated cabin in the desert. He would have been a more recognizable figure when the book was published, but now he and his daughter seem like fairy tale characters in an enchanted place. Natural events—the storm, the rainbow, the flowering cactus—feel magical, just as they do to Clementina.

Look Beyond the Book

Characters in the Book