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The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever Hardcover – September 17, 2013
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From School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Katherine Olivia Sessions was a real go-getter, becoming the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a science degree (1881) and transforming San Diego's City Park from a dry, ugly hillside into a lush garden flourishing beneath a beautiful canopy of trees. Motivated by the love she'd felt for trees since her childhood, Sessions researched species that would grow in arid weather and hilly terrain, and she asked gardeners around the world to send her seeds. She had left teaching to establish a nursery, and by the turn of the century, trees from that nursery were growing not only in City Park but all over San Diego. The park would be the site of the Panama-California Exposition in 1909, and Sessions wanted thousands of additional trees in place to make it even more spectacular. Multitudes volunteered, and the result was so lovely that the fair stayed open for two years instead of one. Hopkins writes in a light narrative style that makes this picture-book biography a great selection for a storytime with a nature-based theme, but it also contains good information for early report writers. The author utilizes variations of a positive, upbeat refrain-"but she did"-that kids will enjoy repeating. McElmurry's artwork undergirds Hopkins's writing with stylized beauty and a sense of joy. This is a wonderful tribute to a true champion of nature.-Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, ARα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* A terrific jacket image shows a tiny girl in a towering forest as seen from above. Who is this girl? And why is she the tree lady? Well, turns out Katherine Olivia Sessions, who grew up in Northern California in the 1860s, always loved trees—she used to weave their leaves into necklaces and bracelets. Girls back then weren’t supposed to get their hands dirty, but Kate did. Girls were also discouraged from studying science, but Kate sure did, graduating from the University of California with a degree in science in 1881. Postgraduation, Kate moved to San Diego, a desert town with little greenery. She wrote to gardeners far and wide, seeking out seeds that would thrive in a harsh desert climate, and by the turn of the century, oaks, eucalypti, and palms sprung up throughout the city. But Kate’s biggest planting project would come in 1915 with the Panama-California Exposition, to be held in Balboa Park. Nobody thought that it would be possible to create a lush garden for the event . . . but guess who did? A little-known, can-do woman shines in this handsome picture book from Hopkins and McElmurry. Hopkins ably brings a woman’s passion—and some science—to a story that’s accessible for young children. And, oh the pictures! Both old-timey and lush, they evoke Kate’s vision perfectly, and individually labeled illustrations of trees add to the educational value. A lovely tribute to the pioneering (and environmentalist) spirit, topped off by an author’s note. Grades 1-3. --Ann Kelley
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Top Customer Reviews
I love how it is a book about possibilities and about following your dreams even if those dreams are different than society's expectations of you. I love the illustrations, with historical details set just right.
The book took several years to come to fruition. It started as a student exercise in a writing seminar. And now, it's a fun and encouraging book about a woman who made her world a better place.
My dad encouraged me to enjoy reading (thanks, dad!) and I encourage you to enjoy reading this book.
But when I read it, I get a special experience. I hear my daddy reading it to me, in his special book voice. I wish I could share that with you all, because it makes me feel so good, so warm and secure, enchanted with the story as it unfolds. If your family gets some portion of that wonder, then, I think, my dad's hopes will have been fulfilled.
I love you, Dad!
Katherine Olivia Sessions lived in the woods in Northern California. Girls from Kate's side of town didn't get their hands dirty, but Kate did. She was the only girl in science. Kate felt that trees were her friends. She also was the only girl to get her science degree. She left her hometown because she got a job in San Diego. She became a teacher for 2 years. Then she became a gardener. Kate started planting trees in the park. Will she plant enough trees?
My favorite part of the book is how on Kate's side of town girls weren't supposed to get their hands dirty, but Kate did. The author wrote this to tell us that we can do anything.
I recommend this book to others because it seems that if Kate can do it we can do it too. I like this book because it shows me that I can do anything.
"The Tree Lady" is a good fit book for people who like plants.
I disagree. Anyone and everyone can love picture books; they are truly a wonderful foray into the world of literature.
And so my love for children's literature never dies. And neither does San Francisco, which was once dry and desert-like and has been transformed in a lush green garden by Kate Sessions who was quite visionary for a time in which women--and girls especially--were seen and not heard (and often, not educated).
Part environmentalism, history, biography, and girls-can-do-anything motto, THE TREE LADY will change not just a city forever, but you too.