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Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya Hardcover – January 5, 2010
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—Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW
* “Nelson’s (We Are the Ship) breathtaking portraits of Maathai often have a beatific quality; bright African textiles represent fields, mountains, and Maathai’s beloved trees… Napoli (The Earth Shook) creates a vivid portrait of the community from which Maathai’s tree-planting mission grows.”
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“A beautiful introduction for children just learning about the Greenbelt Movement.”
—School Library Journal
“Luminous illustrations are the highlight of this third recent picture-book biography of Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmental activist who received the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. In brief, poetic lines thathave a folktale tone, Napoli describes how “wise Wangari” helped Kenyan village women solve problems from hunger to dirty water with the same solution: “Plant a tree.” Most noteworthy is Nelson’s vibrant collage artwork, which features soaring portraits and lush landscapes in oil paint and printed fabrics.”
“Illustrator Kadir Nelson intensifies the text's tribute to East African culture, mixing oil paints and textiles in collages that capture the quest of women looking for answers as well as the beauty and vastness of Maathai's project . . Especially dazzling… Makes vibrantly clear how strong and resourceful Maathai and other African women have been in restoring trees and peace to their world.”
—The Washington Post
“This picture book glows from every page as Napoli and Nelson write and illustrate the inspiring story of ecologist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai…. A lovely, stirring picture book with a simple message for us all: in the midst of change, development, and upheaval, there is always a place for wisdom and peace.”
— Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Kansas
"Will inspire children of all ages.”
—Ellen Scott, The Bookworm, Omaha, Nebraska
"This is the true story of Wangari Muta Maathi, a Kenyan woman who helped to bring trees back to a sadly deforested country. Her grassroots efforts to help her people and the environment at the same time had a profound effect not only on Kenya, but on people all over the world who heard her story and who learned her lessons. With a lyrical text and stunning multimedia art, this picture book is a must for every reader, both young and not so young." -- Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
I feel that the story and its repeating phrases will be of interest to young children. It is perfect for a read-aloud.
As an adult reader I didn't feel the story was entirely clear to explain how planting the trees made Kenya more peaceful (there was a gap of content there), so I'm not sure that children aged 4-8 will understand that either. However I enjoyed the rest of it, and liked the good messages the book conveys.
I was enthralled by the story of living in harmony with nature, knowing the value and use of trees, and not JUST living in a sustainable way but of actually rejuvenating a land that had been abused, having been stripped of trees by man. The picture book has a message of pro-environmentalism, and is uplifting in tone and leaves the reader feeling hopeful. I am grateful the book has a positive tone not an oppressive one like some other books have that tell young kids that `the Earth is doomed'.
I can imagine this being used by school teachers and nature educators. It seems perfectly suited for inclusion in academic studies or pleasure reading about `green living' or `sustainable agriculture' or for general environmental content, or in a botany unit.Read more ›
Mama Miti is part biography, part fiction; part Sunday morning sermon, part ecology lecture; part Dr. Seuss, part Kahlil Gibran.
"Mama Miti" as a young girl was taught by her tribal elders the significance of caring for the natural environment and, especially, for trees. She was also taught there was an indefinable spiritual link that enabled trees, by their mere presence or any of its parts, be it fruit or limb, to provide nourishment, protection or overall peace to the community. When trees were removed, Miti was taught, the foundation of a community was also destroyed. Miti carried this message into adulthood.
Some time had passed and Miti was now a vendor who sat beneath a palm tree in the center of Kenya. Miti also developed a reputation as a renaissance woman whose advice brought prosperity ("Thayu nyumba") to those who sought it.
One by one, women came from all over, "Mama Miti...our goats are starving...wild animals steal my chickens...our stream is too dirty to drink from...my home fell apart." Each time, her response was "plant a tree!"
Not immediately, but over the course of time, Kenya flourished. Open fields became green with vegetation, communities grew, and peace abound.
***** ******** ******
The spiritual connection to trees and plant life was verified to me when, in a discussion with Kenyan scholars, I learned that the book didn't express the full extent of how trees are revered by many of Kenya's ethnic tribes.Read more ›
Although these facts are included in the informative afterward, Napoli downsizes the story to the toddler and elementary school-age set by focusing on Wangari's aid to individuals and families. Wangari helps them by recommending different varieties of trees: Mukinduri for firewood, mukawa to protect wildstock from predators, muthakwa wa athi to cure sick cattle, even a tree "which acts as nature's filter to cleam streams"--the giant sacred fig. Donna Jo Napoli and Nelson create an almost mythic tableau, supported by Napoli's short descriptive sentences (interspersed with words spoken by Kenyan natives) that evoke an oral story-telling structure.
Here, a woman who has lost her job, worried about feeding her family comes to her for help: "Wangari took the woman's hands and turned them over. She took the children's hands one by one. 'These are strong hands. Here are seedlings of the mubiru mubiru tree. Plant them. Plant as many as you can. Eat the berries.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
2004 Nobel Peace prize winner,Wangari Maathai, known as Mama Miti (Mother of Trees), is the subject of this poetic picture book. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Janet Squires Books
This is a wonderful book about an extraordinary woman! Beautifully illustrated and simply told.Published 8 months ago by P. Williams
The artwork is striking. The story of Wangari Mathai is told very simply, which is fine for small children. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Kimberlee
I had never heard of this moving story before. I loved it and so did my students.Published 16 months ago by pm
Wangari Maathai is an amazing woman who is proof that one person can make a difference. She is the recipient of the 2004 Nobel Peace and founder of the Green Belt Movement, which... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Shelli
This is another wonderful book about Wangari Maathai, a woman of courage, strength and much intelligencePublished 18 months ago by piamaria Mc-Z
This book is very well illustrated which is the main reason I purchased it. The images of Wangari Maathai also look most like her in this book compared to all of the others I have... Read morePublished on July 19, 2013 by Abbiek111
I try to vary the types of books in my little one's library and it's not always easy to get him to take interest in other cultures and new ideas. Read morePublished on April 30, 2013 by Jen