“Señor Saguaro” – U-M Grad’s Latest Children’s Book Looks at Life in the Desert

University of Michigan alumna/children’s book author Lisa Rose never thought she’d use Spanish beyond high school. 

However, her latest children’s book, “Señor Saguaro: King of the Desert”– illustrated by Emma Graham – incorporates Spanish into the narrative. 

“I was a Spanish dropout, so I guess my high school Spanish teacher, Sr. Pillot, had the last laugh because I thought I would never use Spanish again,” said Rose, of West Bloomfield, laughing. 

Born in Royal Oak, Rose is a graduate of West Bloomfield High School. She earned her undergraduate degree in education from the University of Michigan and her graduate degree in reading and English, as well as an early childhood endorsement from Oakland University.

In “Señor Saguaro,” the titular character sees his role in his ecosystem from a whole new perspective once he befriends a bat, a family of woodpeckers, and a fruit-loving pack rat.

The book’s genesis goes back more than 15 years. Not only did she write the first draft then, but one of the first trips she ever took with her then-husband was to  Saguaro National Park in Arizona. 

University of Michigan alumna/author Lisa Rose, of West Bloomfield, proudly shows off her latest children’s book, “Señor Saguaro: King of the Desert.” Photo courtesy of Lisa Rose.

“I am a Michigander at heart, so a desert in Arizona was like landing on the moon. It was so foreign and strange from everything I have ever known. I was especially in awe of those majestic plants and how they managed to live under such harsh conditions,” recalled Rose. “As I learned more about desert life, I realized how so many creatures depended on that cactus. It was a lot of pressure just to survive in the desert, so I wondered how a saguaro (a tree-like cactus) would feel with other creatures depending on it.”

“Señor Saguaro” marks Rose’s first collaboration with Graham, who’s based in England. 

Emma was actually never supposed to illustrate the book; it originally had another illustrator who during the pandemic couldn’t finish the job,” she said. “I thought the book would never be born. This book was sold in September 2019. Thankfully, the publisher found Emma and I couldn’t be happier. Sometimes, things work out even better!”

However, Rose didn’t work with Graham when the latter was illustrating the book. 

The publisher hired her, and we never discussed anything creative about the book ourselves; everything is completed through the editor,” explained Rose. “After the book was completed, I loved getting to know Emma over social media. We both love the water and enjoy swimming, so it is very ironic that our book is about the desert!”

Fellow children’s author Kelly DiPucchio, of Macomb Township, praised Rose.

“Lisa Rose has an extraordinary gift for lighting up every room she enters with her brilliant smile and playful spirit,” said DiPucchio. “She imbues that same exuberant energy and passion into her stories. Writing books for kids and encouraging young readers to discover their own unique spark is truly Lisa’s calling.”

According to Rose, she’s received positive feedback about “Señor Saguaro.”

“This is a book I specifically wrote with teachers in mind,” she said. “I wanted this book to be able to be used in classrooms as part of the science curriculum. I wanted teachers to be able to read something informative and still fun! Kids love to learn, but they also love to play. So I wanted this book to have a ‘Sesame Street’ heart and be learning through play. Also, at a time when there has been such an increase in stress in children and a need for social emotional learning, this book also depicts how different creatures can work together to make everyone stronger. People also enjoy the humor. Let’s face it – people need to laugh more!”

Visit LisaRoseWrites.com