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PLANTING PEACE by Gwendolyn Hooks


The Story of Wangari Maathai

by Gwendolyn Hooks ; illustrated by Margaux Carpentier

Pub Date: May 6th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-62371-885-5
Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

This illustrated biography of Kenyan environmental scholar and activist Wangari Maathai showcases her intelligence and courage.

As a girl, Wangari collected firewood from the forest. In clear streams, she witnessed the life cycle of frogs. She tended her own small garden. And when her brothers asked why she didn’t go to school, her mother said, “There’s no reason why not.” Maathai completed high school and went on to study biology in the United States. When she returned home, she found a changed land. The clear rivers were muddy. The forests were replaced by tea and coffee plantations and desert. Even the sacred fig tree had been uprooted. Maathai saw connections between the absence of trees and the poverty and poor nutrition of children and farm animals. With hard work, outreach, and cooperation, Maathai established a tree-planting movement that made a difference in the landscape and communities of her beloved country. Her political involvement is also detailed in this story: her opposition to environmentally irresponsible government plans and how she joined in protest with other women for the release of political prisoners. Each spread matches several paragraphs on one topic with one or more scenes of stylized humans and animals against extremely bright colors. Though the writing is unimpressive, the story is well structured, and the details of Maathai’s life are fascinating enough to merit an attentive read. The arresting figures are engaging, their earth tones set off by pink- and orange-dominated backgrounds. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 71.8% of actual size.)

A solid introduction to an important figure.

(glossary, further information, index) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)