Wangari Maathai (Paperback)
The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees
Charlesbridge, 9781580896276, 48pp.
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
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This simply told story begins with Green Belt Movement founder Wangari Maathai’s childhood at the foot of Mount Kenya where, as the oldest child in her family, her responsibility was to stay home and help her mother. When the chance to go to school presented itself, she seized it with both hands. In the 1960s, she was awarded the opportunity to travel to the US to study, where she saw that even in the land of the free, black people were not welcome.
Returning home, Wangari was determined to help her people and her country. She recognized that deforestation and urbanization was at the root of her country’s troubles. Her courage and confidence carried her through adversity to found a movement for peace, reconciliation, and healing.
Aurélia Fronty’s beautiful illustrations show readers the color and diversity of Wangari’s Africa—the green trees and the flowering trees full of birds, monkeys, and other animals; the roots that dig deep into the earth; and the people who work and live on the land. Wangari Maathai changed the way the world thinks about nature, ecology, freedom, and democracy, inspiring radical efforts that continue to this day.
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Praise For Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees…
- Kirkus Reviews, *starred review
*Prevot offers a gorgeous addition to the several books already available on Kenyan environmentalist and political activist Wangari Maathai, with as much biographical information as the pages can support. The writing is artful, clear, and concise, with references to Maathai’s native Swahili language and the cultural connections to the environment. This book provides students a beginning for research on her early life through the political turmoil of a corrupt Kenyan government which fell in 2002; it will also support deeper understanding of how she earned the Novel Peace Prize in 2004 for starting the Green Belt Movement, an NGO dedicated to planting trees, protecting the environment, and promoting women’s rights. Fronty’s art shines bright, expanding the text with styles that echo Henri Rousseau, Henri Matisse, and others. Of the other picture book biographies on Maathai, most focus on the tree planting rather than her life; this one offers appropriate information about the political upheavals that influenced Maathai.
-School Library Journal, *starred review
Dramatic and dreamlike paintings celebrate Nobel Peace Prize–winner Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt movement. As a child in Kenya, Maathai learned the importance of nurturing forests, and after receiving her high-school diploma “at a time when very few African women even learn[ed] to read,” she traveled to the U.S. There, she studied the connections between environmental destruction, poverty, and oppression before returning to Kenya: “She asks that people think about the future even if the present is harsh and difficult.” Fronty’s fluid artwork incorporates organic motifs and African textile patterns to stirring effect, and extensive appended materials offer powerful supplemental information to conclude this standout tribute to Maathai’s perseverance and hard-won successes.
-Publishers Weekly, *starred review