Review: Wangari Maathai

Posted on February 23, 2015

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February is Black History Month

black history bannerIn observance of Black History Month, Advice from a Caterpillar spotlights new releases in nonfiction picture books that celebrate achievements of African Americans and the heroic deeds of two Africans who changed the world. In this biography we learn about one woman who brought peace and democracy to Africa through its reforestation.

Wangari coverWangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees
Written by Franck Prévot
Illustrated by Aurélia Fronty
Charlesbridge
January 2015
48 pages

Wangari Maathai grew up in Kenya where girls were not allowed to go to school. But her life was changed with a simple question from her brother: “Why doesn’t Wangari go to school?” Her mother decided to send her to school. Wangari was such an excellent student she was invited by Senator John F. Kennedy (soon to be President Kennedy) to continue her education in the U.S. During her years in this country she learned firsthand about the civil rights movement. When she returned to Kenya, Wangari faced a different challenge. Her own country’s forests were being cut down to make way for huge plantations that grew coffee, tea, and tobacco. Wangari formed the Green Belt Movement. Their mission was to plant trees all over Kenya as well as to educate people about the value of trees. But Wangari she didn’t stop there. She organized the environmental party to defeat the authoritarian President Daniel arap Moi. Wangari became known as Mama Miti, “the mother of trees,” and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

Prévot spices up this rich biography with plenty of anecdotes to reveal Wangari’s strength, intellect, and irrepressible personality. Through her actions, he shows how the civil rights movement influenced her political activities on behalf of the people of Kenya. Fronty’s lavish spreads full of vibrant colors illustrate the natural beauty as well as the powerful bond between the people and their land. Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees is an engaging tribute to a great African leader.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Peggy Tibbetts

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Posted in: bkreview, book review