Title: Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya
Author: Donna Jo Napoli
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Concepts: natural resources, human resources, environment, gender
Review: Mama Miti is an imaginatively written and richly illustrated book about Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Its simple story frame and its artwork are quite appealing. By the time she won the prize in 2004, Maathai’s Green Belt Movement had planted 30 million trees in Africa. In this story about Maathai, a succession of village women come to her for advice about how to survive with too little food, dirty water, sick cows and other problems. The answer to every problem was the same: “Go home and plant trees.” Maathai “prescribed” a different tree to solve each problem: the mibiru muiru to provide food, the muheregendi to provide fodder for animals, and the mukuyu to filter dirty water. After advising each woman what kind of tree to plant to solve her particular problem, she bids them, “Thayu nyumba,” or “Peace, my people.”
The book concludes with an afterword with more information about Maathai, a Kikuyu glossary, additional resources about Wangari Maathai, and a note from the illustrator describing the artwork.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children