Thursday, March 9, 2017

Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees


Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees
By Franck Prevot
Illustrated by Aurelia Fronty
Charlesbridge, 2015. Biography.

I had never heard of Wangari Maathai before I found this book, and once I flipped through the pages I was pretty shocked and disappointed at myself. This picture book biography very succinctly explains the life of the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. It talks about her childhood in Kenya and her sadness when British Imperialists started to raze the trees in Kenya to plant tea, coffee, and tobacco. It touches on her excitement when her brother asked her mother to let her go to school with him - at a time when many African girls never even learned to read. Mostly, it shares her beautiful and simple message - that planting trees provides hope for today and forests for tomorrow.

I love picture book biographies, but this one stands out to me. Franck Prevot craftily deals with very big subjects like imperialism, segregation, and corrupt governments in ways that are easy for young readers to understand. The illustrations are beautiful, colorful, and bright and in many ways match the hopeful environmental message that 'Mama Miti' spent her life sharing.

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