Title: Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa
Author and Illustrator: Jeanette Winter
Concepts: natural resources, environment, gender
Review: Growing up in Kenya, Wangari Maathai was surrounded by trees. However, when she returned home after studying in the United States, she was shocked and saddened to find the forests gone and the women of her village bent from hauling firewood from miles away. They had been cut down to make room for new buildings. No one had replanted the trees. Wangari decided that she could plant the lost trees---starting one at a time in her own backyard. Then she convinced other women in the village to plant tree seedlings. Although the government men laughed at their efforts, the women continued planting. More women from other villages and towns in Kenya and other African countries started planting trees until there were over 30 million trees planted where there had been none.
Jeanette Winter’s succinct text, accompanied by her bold illustrations, tells a compelling story of the way one woman can make a difference. The book mentions Wangari’s defiance of the government, her encounter with a billy club- wielding police officer, and in jail in a sensitive manner that will not alarm children. The author’s endnote provides information for the adults who will share this book with children.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children