Reviews for Wangari's Trees of Peace : A True Story from Africa


Booklist Reviews 2008 December #2
"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." Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Spring
This picture book biography celebrates Wangari Maathai, Nobel Prize-winning environmentalist and founder of Kenya's Green Belt Movement. Winter's lyrical main text gives readers a sense of the woman ("Wangari lives under an umbrella of green trees..."); an appended author's note is more factual. The accompanying brightly patterned and cleanly composed acrylic illustrations beautifully display Maathai's spirit and determination. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2008 August #2
Nobel Peace Prize-winner Wangari Maathai's work to reverse the deforestation of Kenya garners Winter's signature treatment: a spare, reverential text and stylized, reductionist paintings. The present-tense narration posits Wangari's thoughts and inserts unattributed quotations: "Will all of Kenya become a desert? she wonders as her tears fall." "The government men laugh. ‘Women can't do this,' they say." Wangari is imprisoned for her actions, but while she is textually and visually depicted in jail and then on the next spread free within the treed landscape, the text makes no mention of her release. Possibly most egregious in this day and age is the image of Wangari standing within an undifferentiated Africa while to the north, Europe is depicted with rudimentary national boundaries. While the effort of producing an intelligible picture-book biography for young children inevitably involves the selection of just a small number of details, this sere distillation is arguably more inspiring story than biography. For a contrast in depth and documentation, see Claire A. Nivola's recent Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai (2008). (author's note) (Picture book/biography. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2009 January
Based on events in the life of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai, this picture book describes her childhood and subsequent struggle to improve her community. Acrylic illustrations portray Wangari?s life in Kenya. Winter?s distinctive folk-style illustrations are arranged like framed pictures with colored backgrounds to depict the important time period changes in her life. After education in the United States, Wangari returns to Kenya and is saddened to see the rural landscape transformed. Trees have been destroyed, and land is no longer cultivated for local crops. As a trained biologist, Wangari knows that trees will improve the countryside. Her idea begins with just 9 trees planted in her own yard. She spends the rest of her adulthood engaging her community in revitalizing efforts. The story is presented simply and more facts are given in the author?s note. This book can support lessons in science (environment) and social studies (community and social change). Recommended. Lisa Hunt, Elementary Library Media Specialist, Apple Creek Elementary, Moore, Oklahoma ¬ 2009 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 August #2

Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner whose Green Belt Movement has planted 30 million trees in Kenya, is the subject of Winter's (The Librarian of Basra ) eloquent picture biography. Much like Claire Nivola's recent Planting the Trees of Kenya , this work, for a slightly younger audience, introduces Wangari as a child, "liv[ing] under an umbrella of green trees in the shadow of Mount Kenya." The tightly focused text moves quickly without sacrificing impact. Wangari earns a scholarship to study in the U.S., and when she returns after six years, she's stunned--setting down her luggage in a veritable wasteland, extending her palms as if imploring someone to answer her unspoken questions: "What has happened? ... Where are the trees? "She plants seedlings in her own backyard--a small start that eventually inspires thousands of others (and, perhaps, the reader) to emulate her. Winter's images appear in framed, same-size squares on each page, creating a flat, frieze-like effect that pays off as Wangari's movement grows and the activities within each frame multiply--a powerful demonstration of Wangari's work. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)

[Page 45]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2008 November

K-Gr 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

[Page 113]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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