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Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa [Kindle Edition]

Jeanette Winter
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Hardcover $13.92  
Back to School for Kids
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Book Description

As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But years later when she returns home, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, and she knows that soon all the trees will be destroyed. So Wangari decides to do something—and starts by planting nine seedlings in her own backyard. And as they grow, so do her plans. . . .

         This true story of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a shining example of how one woman’s passion, vision, and determination inspired great change.

         Includes an author’s note.

This book was printed on 100% recycled paper with 50% postconsumer waste.



Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Kindergarten-Grade 4—This delightful picture-book biography of the environmentalist has engaging illustrations and accessible, succinct prose. When Wangari Maathai was growing up in Kenya, the land was covered with trees. But on returning to her homeland from America, where she was educated on scholarship, she discovered a hot, dry, barren land, stripped of the trees she loved as a child. Starting in her own backyard, Maathai planted trees and encouraged other women to do the same. More than 30 million trees have since been planted by the members of her Green Belt Movement. Maathai was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2004 in recognition of her work. The acrylic illustrations have a warm folk-art influence. The pictures are both literal and symbolic, and framed in complementary lines of color. An author's note and a quote from Maathai are included. This book would be a superb choice for read-alouds or assignments.—Melissa Christy Buron, Epps Island Elementary, Houston, TX
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Like Claire A. Nivola’s Planting the Trees of Kenya (2008), this powerful picture-book biography introduces Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. As in Nivola’s title, Winter follows her charismatic subject from her rural Kenyan childhood to her adult life as the founder of the Green Belt Movement, which has profoundly improved her country’s health and economy. Winter distills Maathai’s inspirational story into spare words and images. As in her other similarly formatted picture books, such as The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq (2005), Winter’s acrylic paintings employ rich, opaque hues and elemental shapes that illustrate specific details while conveying a broader sense of her subject’s remarkable influence. An author’s note fills in biographical facts, but children may still have questions about specific events, such as the violent protest battles that leave Maathai bloodied. Paired with Nivola’s slightly more comprehensive approach, this title offers a welcome introduction to Maathai’s awe-inspiring work and to the subject of activism in general. Grades 1-3. --Gillian Engberg

Product Details

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is one "get-it-done" woman October 20, 2008
"The earth was naked. For me the mission was to try to cover it with green." - Wangari Maathai

Growing up in the shadow of Mount Kenya in Africa, Wangari is surrounded by an umbrella of green trees. The trees protect the birds, provide firewood to the women of the village and help keep the soil rich for the sweet potatoes, sugarcane and maize Wangari helps to harvest.

Wangari travels to America for school, but when she returns six years later, the trees are gone. No crops grow, the birds are gone and the women have to travel far distances to find firewood. On World Environment Day in 1977, Wangari plants nine seedlings in her backyard and begins the Green Belt Movement which, over the next 27 years, plants thirty million trees across Africa.

Wangari's Trees of Peace: a true story from Africa is the story of one woman's effort to return green to Africa. Told in Jeanette Winter's simple language and blocky, colorful illustrations, Wangari's Trees of Peace is wonderful means to introduce 3-to-7-year- olds to environmentalism, the interconnected nature of ecosystems and political activitism. It also introduces some difficult subjects that may make some children and parents uncomfortable: prejudice ("Women can't do this"), violence ("Wangari blocks their way, so they hit her with clubs") and imprisonment ("They call her a troublemaker and put her in jail").

While Winter's tale simplifies Wangari's story to a basic level, it carries within it an important message, that one person can make a difference. Wangari's simple act of planting a tree translates to an important environmental movement and Wangari receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Children are innate idealists and it is never too early to foster their belief that they can achieve anything.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for an 8-year-old September 12, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this for my 8-year-old niece. She and her mother read it together and really loved it. This is a great story, clearly told. For all our progress on the gender front, girls still need positive female role models, and Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement and Nobel Prize Winner is a terrific one. The story values education but also stresses the importance of putting education to use. Also, the story helps children understand sustainability. Finally, the story stresses how we all need to take part in forging solutions. One person can't fix enormous problems by herself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Topic: Great. Art: Great. Storytelling: Needs work. January 6, 2014
Wangari's story is important, and she is an amazing woman. I always enjoy Jeanette Winter's spare and poetic storytelling.

But here, I find her storytelling flawed. I got this book for my 8 year old when her class was studying Kenya. It was a good fit of topic and tone, except the narrative was incomplete. One page Wangari is getting beaten by the police, then she's arrested and then. . . what?

On the next page "Wangari is not alone. . . " The women are planting trees, but there is no explanation for how long Wangari was jailed, how she got out, how did she get the seeds to the women when she was jailed, what happened to HER? Yes the trees are important, but how (as mentioned in the Author's Note) did she get from jail to being a member of Parliament? The last close-up of Wangari in the book is her face bleeding from the police club. Yes, that did happen and it is important, but it left my daughter with the logical idea that the beating was the last thing that ever happened to Wangari. (The tiny image of her on the last page could, really, be anyone. And there is no explanation for how she got out of jail to be standing on the mountain in that last image.)

My child was wrapped up in the story and felt cheated by the fact that Wangari's story was left incomplete. Yes, the trees are important, but the story of the person who made it happen is just as important, especially to the young children to whom this book is targeted.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wangari Maathai is an amazing woman - she won a scholarship to attend college in the U.S., became a professor of biology in Kenya, she enabled Kenyan woman to become environmentalists by enticing them with money, and she stood up to the government to elicit needed change to better the lives of her people. The story is powerful and still accessible, written in plain language appropriate for the 4-7 crowd.

That said - word of caution. I wanted to take this to my daughter's school, but there are two pages that make it inappropriate. The book discusses how she was beaten with clubs by police and thrown in jail. Blood is shown coming from her cheekbone. This is a difficult message to give to a 4 year old, conflicts with other messages about police we give them, and will render this book unusable in most classroom environments.

So, I am recommending the book for home use with discussion and sadly not recommending it for school use unless it has been shared beforehand with the parental types.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wangari's Trees of Peace March 2, 2009
We gave this book to both sets of grandchildren, each almost 3 and 4. They love it! One of the almost 3 year olds keeps asking me to read the book about trees, and one of the 4 year olds has now become interested in everything to do with Kenya. She keeps talking about Wangari as if she knows her. The book touched something in the children, as her memoir, Unbowed, did in me. I will recommend it to every teacher, too, as a read-aloud in schools.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Story....A Great Heroine!
This was a summer reading assignment for my 8 year old son and I was delighted to hear about this incredible woman. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Beaniebaby NYC
5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson for our time.
An excellent book, beautiful illustrations. Provides a wonderful example of what just one person can do when that person's example is followed by others. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Susan
5.0 out of 5 stars summer project
this was on my son's reading list for the summer. He enjoyed it. we were even able to loan it out to a few students that did not get to purchase it
Published 5 months ago by kitty1964
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story for children
I shared this story with a class of 4th graders and it was a HUGE success. The true story of one woman's life, growing up surrounded by the rich green forest of Africa, and... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Pamela Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring story.
Great illustrations and my 12 and 9 year old loved that the story was true. I was thrilled to learn something new as well.
Published 8 months ago by Valeria Whiting
5.0 out of 5 stars Favorite book from Christmas
Beautiful book about an inspiring Nobel prize winner. Very empowering story for young people, particularly girls. My 1st grader can read it with ease and loves the story. Read more
Published 8 months ago by SeattleMom
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice intro to her work
I purchased the Kindle version to use in my classroom to introduce Wangari Maathai and her work. The formatting of the Kindle version wasn't as nice as I had expected, but the... Read more
Published 10 months ago by kenE
4.0 out of 5 stars Doing Good is Dangerous
Better than Mama Mita, which covers the same bio, this book shows the beating and imprisonment endured by the subject. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Mary E. Sturdivant
4.0 out of 5 stars Wish we could have the story without the politics
Sometmies, even the best stories are spoiled by knowing the politics of the person. This is one of those times. Poor Africa.
Published 11 months ago by M. Heiss
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
On the simple side, but a good introduction of the Nobel prize winner to a young audience. It not only features her tree-planting work, but also some of her anti-corruption fight... Read more
Published 15 months ago by mac_from_macomb
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