Kirkus Reviews QR Code
SEEDS OF CHANGE by Jen Cullerton Johnson Kirkus Star

SEEDS OF CHANGE

Planting a Path to Peace

By Jen Cullerton Johnson (Author) , Sonia Lynn Sadler (Illustrator)

Age Range: 6 - 11

Pub Date: May 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60060-367-9
Publisher: Lee & Low

This debut picture biography, idealized and inspiring, draws on Wangari Maathai’s autobiographical writing to present an overview of the activist’s life from childhood to the present. Johnson sows her narrative with botanical metaphors: “Her mind was like a seed rooted in rich soil, ready to grow.” The mugumo tree symbolizes Kenya’s transition from agrarian bounty to environmental precipice: It yields figs for humans and animals yet bows to destruction as multinational corporations raze forests to profit from coffee plantations. Richer than other treatments of Maathai for children and more grounded in her work’s implicit feminism, this details her education in Nairobi and the United States, her imprisonment for activism and her scientific and environmental work, resulting in the planting of 30,000,000 trees and economic empowerment for Kenyan women. Sadler’s beautiful scratchboard illustrations incise white contoured line into saturated landscapes of lush green leaf patterns, brilliant-hued textiles and undulating, stylized hills. Maathai always wears a colorful headscarf or fabric bow, and the community spirit she resuscitates is joyfully celebrated on every spread. Vibrant and accomplished. (author’s note, sources, quotation sources) (Picture book biography. 6-11)