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PLANTING THE TREES OF KENYA by Claire A. Nivola

PLANTING THE TREES OF KENYA

The Story of Wangari Maathai

By Claire A. Nivola (Author) , Claire A. Nivola (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: April 8th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-374-39918-4
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Laced with gracefully told anecdotes, this picture-book biography examines the work of Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize–winner Maathai, who returned from college abroad to find her country ecologically imperiled. With the shift from small, local farms to large commercial ventures Kenya’s trees were disappearing, women were forced to hunt further afield for firewood and desertification threatened. The story of Maathai’s Green Belt Movement lends itself well to Nivola’s treatment. The often-panoramic scenes of country and village life possess a detailed, näive charm that beautifully explicates Maathai’s social progress as she instructs women, schoolchildren and even prison inmates in the benefits of planting and nurturing trees. In one effective spread, Maathai says to soldiers: “You hold your gun . . . but what are you protecting? The whole country is disappearing with the wind and water.” In the facing painting Maathai stands before a group of attentive, black-capped, red-coated soldiers and gestures to a map of Kenya posted above a cheery row of potted seedlings. This impressive effort will resonate with children. (author’s note, source note) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)